Yet to keep a Premier League clean sheet this season and already needing to make an emergency center-back signing, Watford undoubtedly need defensive reinforcements if they are to avoid relegation this season. Their blistering attack is showing no signs of slowing down, but their defensive frailties have been costly on too many occasions already. However, the Hornets might look to sign Daniel Amartey from Leicester City, as per a Claudio Ranieri request, to ease those problems.
Lots of Interest Reported
According to TEAMtalk, the former Leicester City manager has asked the hierarchy at Vicarage Road about a potential January swoop for Amartey, a player the “Tinkerman” signed in the mid-season transfer window of the Foxes’ famous Premier-League-winning campaign.
Teams in Germany, Italy, and Spain are also said to be looking at a potential swoop for the 26-year-old.
Daniel Amartey to Vicarage Road Would Not Be a Shock
There are many pieces in place that could work to Watford’s advantage if they are to pursue Ranieri’s request. First, Amartey is out of contract at the end of the season, meaning a transfer would not be at full price. Even though Leicester City are looking to extend his contract as he has proven to be a useful squad-rotation player (appearing in 14 matches across all competitions this season), the prospect of guaranteed starting minutes at Vicarage Road could encourage him to stall on signing the extension.
Furthermore, the relationship between Ranieri and Amartey is thought to be strong. The idea of playing under his former manager could work to the Hornets’ advantage.
And finally, a reason overlooked by most has been Amartey’s agent: Pini Zahavi. Even though the super-agent is known for his overseeing of stars such as Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Watford surprisingly do have good links with him. Philip Zinckernagel – currently on loan at Nottingham Forest from Watford – is under the agency of Zahavi. Thus, Zahavi and the Hornets are already in close contact.
Strong Start Shows Necessary Traits He Would Bring to Vicarage Road
One of Watford’s biggest defensive problems has been an inability to build out from the back due to a poor range of passing from the center-backs. There is too much reliance on the midfielders and attackers to transition the phases of play. However, Amartey has a much-desired range of passing.
In his eight Premier League appearances this season, he has completed 56.29 passes per match (81stpercentile amongst the league’s center-backs) and has an overall pass completion percentage of 88.8% (79thpercentile). His total passing distance per match is in the 75th percentile, and his total progressive passing distance is in the 68th percentile.
Even though Amartey is expected to have better passing statistics considering he is in a Leicester City side averaging 55.1% possession per match, whereas Watford have an average possession of 44.3%, the disparities cannot be entirely accounted for by this possession difference alone. Simply put, Amartey is a much better passer than any of the Hornets’ current center-backs. For reference, Troost-Ekong averages only 30 completed passes per 90 minutes (23rd percentile), has an 80.1% pass completion rate (23rd percentile), and ranks significantly lower in the passing distance statistics. Craig Cathcart ranks below Troost-Ekong in all of these statistics. Amartey also ranks significantly above both in each of short, medium, and long pass completion percentages.
Amartey’s defensive ability also trumps most, if not all, of the current Watford center-backs’ respective talents. As Ranieri has asked for, the Hornets need a ball-playing center-back who helps develop possession while also knowing how to thrive in his high-pressing system. Thus, if Amartey is signed in January, it will not be too much of a surprise.