On Monday, Watford’s interest in FC Nantes’ midfield-star Imran Louza was known. A move for the highly-rated 22-year-old appeared imminent. On Tuesday, Watford confirmed the signing of the former French U21 player for a bargain price.
Why Watford Underpaid for Imran Louza
Imran Louza Joins Hornets
After Watford lost Etienne Capoue in January to Villarreal and Abdoulaye Doucoure the summer prior to Everton, the Club were in the market for a talented, potentially long-serving midfielder. Louza, who can play as a box-to-box midfielder or in more advanced midfield (and even wide) positions, provides the Hornets another Premier League standard player – an already-proven man with tons of potential to rapidly improve further. He immediately enters the conversation for a starting role in the opening match of the Hornets’ top-flight return.
Time With FC Nantes Caught Watford’s Eye
Last season, as FC Nantes avoided Ligue 1 relegation, Louza made 35 appearances, scoring seven times in the process. His versatility, as he portrayed in France, will help him adapt into Xisco Munoz’s complex midfield.
Watford stated on their official website that, “The left-footer is capable of playing out wide but predominantly occupies a central midfield position, either in a defensive role or further forward. A talented passer, Louza is also skilled in dead-ball situations, taking corners, free-kicks and penalties at his former club.”
Watford Secured Bargain Deal: Comparing Nearly-Identical Transfers
The most similar transfer as possible to Louza’s recent Premier League move is when Jordan Veretout moved to Aston Villa in the summer of 2015. At the time of the transfer, Veretout was 22-years-old, the same age as Louza is now. And, like Louza, Veretout had emerged to stardom via working his way up FC Nantes’ youth ranks.
Both are effective box-to-box midfielders capable of playing in attacking and defensive midfield positions and even out wide if necessary. The current AS Roma player’s final season with FC Nantes saw him score seven goals (like Louza’s final French season). So, Louza leaves FC Nantes as a practically identical player as Veretout was in 2015.
The only difference between the transfers is quite literally the names of the players, the Premier League club of destination, and the year. Both transfers warranted £8-9 million fees. But £8-9 million in 2015, considering inflation, is worth £9.07-10.2 million in present value. Thus, when considering present value, the Hornets paid roughly £1 million fewer for Louza than Aston Villa did for Veretout.
Although Louza and Veretout are the best players to compare when considering the fairness of a transfer fee, there are other examples that show Watford underpaid more clearly. After all, for a Premier League club, £1 million is noteworthy, yet still somewhat marginal too.
Another eerily similar transfer, which occurred much more recently, further shows how Watford signed Louza for a bargain price. Another FC Nantes youth product, Valentin Rongier left the club for Marseille as a 24-year-old in 2019. In his final campaign with his boyhood club, he tallied nine goal contributions – the exact same number of goal contributions Louza had last season. The similar box-to-box midfielder’s transfer cost Marseille around £12 million – over £3 million more than what Watford paid.
Both Veretout and Rongier are thriving with their respective clubs. FC Nantes have a history of producing talented, versatile, box-to-box midfielders, and Watford have secured the newest prodigy. Even in a COVID-impacted transfer market, the Hornets were able to secure Louza for considerably less than what could have been reasonably asked for him.
Immediate Outlook for Imran Louza
With Will Hughes, Nathaniel Chalobah, Philip Zinckernagel, Tom Cleverley, Dan Gosling, and Domingos Quina all already vying for starting positions in the midfield next season, Louza will need to prove himself in pre-season. But, unless the unexpected occurs, Louza will be one of the first choices on the team sheet.
Louza becomes the Hornets’ third signing of the transfer window. Watford already signed Kwadwo Baah and Mattie Pollock from the lower tiers of English football. Unlike the other two signings who need time to further develop, Louza’s impact will be immediate and loud.
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