Watford Insert Key Fine Print in Philip Zinckernagel’s Loan Deal

When Philip Zinckernagel joined Watford, he had the dream of playing in the Premier League. During preseason, he continued to wear the number seven kit and seemed to be impressing Xisco Munoz, especially after scoring in a closed-door friendly against Arsenal. Controversially, the Hornets elected to loan him to Nottingham Forest which appeared to be a mistake for multiple reasons. However, one of the biggest concerns regarding his departure is addressed, and potentially resolved, in the fine print of the loan deal.

Watford Have January Recall Option on Zinckernagel Loan

According to Adam Leventhal of the Athletic, Watford made sure to put a January recall option in the deal to temporarily send the Dane to the second tier. Tom Dele-Bashiru, who has been sent on loan to Reading, also has a January recall option.

So far, in two starts for Nottingham Forest, Zinckernagel has provided three assists. He has had the opportunity to line up in his more natural, more preferred wide positions, whether it be on the right flank or left. At Watford, he performed well in the center of the midfield, but his true talents come from the creative wide positions, so the Hornets never got to see him utilized to the best of his abilities.

Even after a 19 goal, 18 assist Eliteserien season, Zinckernagel was not going to start on the right-wing over Watford’s star Ismaila Sarr. Thus, minutes on the left-wing appeared as if they could be in the cards. However, as the Hornets felt he would not get sufficient playing time at Vicarage Road, a loan move to keep him at the top of his form, increase his transfer value, and perhaps get him ready to be Sarr’s right-wing successor had its upsides. However, one of the main points of conflict raised when he departed regarded Watford’s lack of talented, natural attacking depth, particularly out wide, when AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations) comes around. 

Hornets Could Sting Nottingham Forest By Taking Back Zinckernagel for AFCON

AFCON runs from January 9th to February 6th, a span in which Watford have just two Premier League matches. However, it remains to be seen how early players’ respective nations will want them to report to international team training and how long it will take for players to recover after the tournament. This time on either side of the main tournament could realistically see stars missing up to six or seven matches. 

With Sarr one of Senegal’s stars and Emmanuel Dennis in the mix for a Nigeria call-up, there is a chance Watford are without their best attacker and one of his most effective compliments. Without Sarr, Watford will need someone to fill the right-wing role. If Zinckernagel keeps up his form in the Championship, he will be more than ready to take the reins from Sarr while he is gone to minimize the effects of Sarr’s absence. With Peter Etebo and Imran Louza also both eligible for AFCON duty, Zinckernagel would offer midfield cover as well if necessary. 

Furthermore, Zinckernagel could be used as an X-Factor in the second half of the season, especially if the Hornets need more creativity in the squad rotation to avoid the drop. 

Overall, the January recall option makes the mistake of loaning him out only minimally detrimental. If he gets recalled in January, it means he is in Premier-League-ready form, and the loan was useful in getting him there. If he is not recalled, then loaning him out was the right move as it means the Hornets can focus elsewhere for answers while Sarr is gone if it is clear Zinckernagel is not the best choice. 

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