After signing Juraj Kucka, Imran Louza, Ozan Tufan, and Peter Etebo, the Hornets might still not be done shaking up their midfield. With Will Hughes’ departure imminent and Nathaniel Chalobah also likely heading out the door, midfield reinforcements and improvements were (and still may be) needed. The 2-0 defeat against Brighton also showed a true number six would be a useful signing. And so, the Hornets appear on the lookout for yet another midfielder.
New Arrivals Get the Job Done, But Not Entirely
Even though Etebo has played well as a number six, Louza can play there as well, and Tufan also has been frequently deployed as a defensive-midfielder in his career, all of their best strengths are better utilized in more advanced-midfield positions. Tufan, for example, has moved to more progressive-midfield roles in recent years, notching 25-goal-contributions in the last two seasons alone. Etebo’s ball-carrying ability makes him better suited for a number eight role. Louza’s attacking creativity makes him more adept at playing as one of the two central midfielders in a 4-4-2 formation.
So, when it comes to a true defensive-minded holding midfielder, one who will effectively act as a third center-back, the Hornets do not necessarily have someone who plays there most naturally.
Okay Yokuslu Links Persist
Almost one month ago, Okay Yokuslu’s agent met with Cristiano Giarreta, making a Watford arrival seem imminent. The Celta Vigo man, who impressed with West Brom while on loan for the second half of last campaign, is open to the move to the Premier League, according to Turkish-Football.
The recent arrival of Tufan at Watford might further push Yokuslu in favor of a move to Vicarage Road (as Wolverhampton Wanderers also have interest, according to Sky Sports). The two midfielders played together this summer at Turkey’s underwhelming Euro 2020 campaign.
He would provide Watford a true defensive-midfielder and will only be brought in if he is to be a consistent starter. In Xisco Munoz’s 4-1-4-1 system, a player of Yokuslu’s strengths is necessary and has to be reliable every week. However, if Xisco is considering a formational change, then an arrival in the number six position may become unnecessary.
Isaac Hayden Also Reportedly Targeted
According to Football Insider, Watford are interested in signing Isaac Hayden, who is thought to be intrigued by the potential transfer. The report suggests, even though Hayden has started Newcastle’s first two matches, that a move away for him should not be written off, with the player and both teams open to a potential agreement.
Like Yokuslu, Hayden falls into the category of an “extra-center-back-esque” midfielder. The 26-year-old also has more Premier League experience than Yokuslu, having featured in 106 top-flight matches.
What to Expect
It is still hard to determine whether another midfielder will come through the door before August 31st. It will likely go down to whether the likes of Hughes and Chalobah (and maybe others) can be offloaded first. Nonetheless, the room for a true, natural defensive-midfielder still exists, especially ones that can also play as center-backs (as these two can) if necessary.