Watford Target Goalkeeping Changes for Upcoming Season

As the season approaches, there is uncertainty as to which Watford target might start the season in goal.

Watford Target Goalkeeping Changes

The Watford Observer reported in June that new head coach Marco Silva’s priority was to recruit a new starting goalkeeper. Juventus’ Neto was seemingly lined up. However, the move hit a buffer as the player has expressed his desire to sign for Valencia. Other candidates have been cited, although none have come close to signing, at this stage.

Current number one Heurelho Gomes, has 33 clean sheets in 122 games for the Golden Boys. However, Gomes only managed to keep seven clean sheets last term. The 11-cap Brazilian joined from Tottenham Hotspur in 2014. The experienced stopper has 12 months remaining on his Watford contract.

Sporting Director Luke Dowling opted against re-signing 3rd choice goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin, following an evaluation of his goalkeeping corps. Dowling will benefit from the fabled Pozzo scouting network as he bids to reinvigorate his goalkeeping unit. The established Pozzo scouting network is recognized as one of the best in world football.

Dowling, alongside Technical Director Filippo Giraldi and CEO Scott Duxbury sought to add reinforcements in January. Enquiries for Tim Krul and Asmir Begovic were rebuffed. The habitually reliable Gomes suffered injuries which impacted two league games last season. The former PSV-man was substituted early in the 6-1 defeat to Liverpool in November. Gomes was substituted again in the stalemate with Middlesbrough, in January.

Building Towards the Future?

Watford recently announced the signing of Austrian goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, on a 3 year deal. The 22-year-old, who was recently released from Stoke, failed to make a first team appearance in his 6 year stint in Staffordshire. The youngster spent time on loan with Wrexham, Ross County and Bury.

Have the Pozzo’s unearthed another rough diamond? Or will the Austrian endure another frustrating spell?

Bachmann will count towards the home-grown quota. He has 16 caps for Austria Under-21’s and has appeared in the senior Austria squad on the last 2 international breaks. Bachmann’s most recent involvement was for Bury in January 2016. The 6ft 3in stopper is keen to develop his career, following a frustrating time at Stoke.

Surprisingly, he opted to join Watford, where initially he may struggle for first team appearances. Stoke Sentinel reporter – Martin Spinks, voiced his doubts over Bachmann’s future as a Premier League number one –

He’s a really good character but he was just never close to making the step up at Stoke. His English is very good so there will be no problems with that, and he’s a fine shot stopper. He’s certainly a reliable back-up, and should be more than adequate for a number three.’

Defensive Regression

The Hornets shipped 50 goals in their Premier League return, in 2015/2016. Whereas last season, Watford conceded 68 goals, accounting for a 36% increase. Swansea (70) were the only team to allow more goals and avoid relegation. Under Walter Mazzarri’s stewardship, Watford were known to frequently capitulate. The lack of defensive stability will be of particular concern for Watford’s owner – Gino Pozzo, as the club enter their 3rd season in the top flight under the Italian’s ownership.

Gomes has had little competition for the goalkeeper’s jersey in his 3 seasons at the club. Costel Pantilimon has failed to convince when deputising for Gomes, as the cup competition ‘keeper. The Watford Observer suggests that Pantilimon is not favoured by Silva and will leave the club this summer.

Bachmann will be earmarked as one-for-the-future. Should Watford manage to lure a top-class goalkeeper to the club, Bachmann may depart on loan for the season. This is a common strategy for the Hornets hierarchy, following the signing of a young player not immediately considered for the first team.

Gomes has the backing of his fellow professionals at the club, having been voted Player’s Player of the Season. The Brazilian has been instrumental in maintaining the Hertfordshire club’s top-tier status. He will certainly not be easy to replace. The Hornets have until 31st August to complete their transfer activity – when the summer transfer window closes.

Main image credit: