Watford have confirmed the signing of 18-year-old forward Tiago Cukur. The Dutch-born Turkish youth international player turned 18 in November. After spending time with Feyenoord and AZ Alkmaar’s youth setups, Tiago became a free agent.
Watford Sign Tiago Cukur
“He’s a really good size at 6ft 3in and is good in the air. He needs work, like all young players do, but he could be a really good prospect for this club.”
✍️ We can confirm the signing of exciting 18-year-old forward Tiago Cukur, who joins our Academy after leaving @AZAlkmaar.
— Watford Football Club 💙 (@WatfordFC) January 14, 2021
Coaches Have Say on Tiago Cukur
In an interview on the club’s official website, Omer Riza, Watford’s U23 Senior Professional Development Coach, said, “I got a call about this young lad in Holland so we got him in. We had a look at him and from the first minute we clapped eyes on him, we saw the qualities he had. He can hold it up well, he’s got a great touch under pressure, is a really good size at 6ft 3in and is good in the air.”
A Player For the Future
Tiago joins as a member of the Hornets’ U23 ranks, so he is not necessarily going to appear frequently in the first-team. With that being said, the first picture of him training with Watford shows midfield-star Will Hughes in the background. The Hornets reserve the last couple of spots on the bench for youth players, so perhaps Tiago stands a chance of featuring in the near future.
The contract he signed with Watford runs until the summer of 2022, with the option of a one-year extension. In his U17 days with AZ Alkmaar, he scored 11 times in 27 appearances in official youth-competitions.
The youngster, as described by Riza, has quick feet and good awareness. The composure in his finishing helped him garner heavy interest from some of the top clubs in Europe.
Tiago Cukur Could Potentially be Deeney’s Successor
Watford’s club captain Troy Deeney is now 32-years-old. Despite being a consistent starter when healthy, the talisman is past his prime years. Averaging one goal contribution per 128 minutes this season is for sure a productive return. Nevertheless, 32 is usually the start of even the best of players’ swan-songs.
Tiago has similar qualities to Deeney. However, Watford’s search for Deeney’s potential successor (in the sense of being Watford’s long-term prolific goal-scorer) started long ago. The signing of a young Richarlison in 2017 can be seen as the first major reach in the search. But, Richarlison rose to stardom too quickly.
A rocky relationship with the Hornets, and a hefty transfer fee from Everton, was enough to pry Richarlison away from Watford. Immense profit was made, but Deeney’s potential successor was gone.
In terms of young centre-forwards on Watford’s books now, it is clear they have been stashing up. 19-year-old Joao Pedro, Watford’s leading scorer on the season, seems most likely to be a prolific centre-forward in the top leagues. Whether that be with the Hornets or elsewhere remains to be seen.
In Watford’s youth setup, they have Ryan Cassidy (who is on loan at Accrington Stanley), Djibril Fandje Toure (who signed in the summer), Sam Dalby, and now Tiago Cukur as centre-forward options. Very quietly, the Hornets are buzzing closer to a long-term Deeney replacement. The current route involves developing youth – with Tiago being one of the valued players.
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