Watford’s desire to reinvigorate their strike force upon their return to the Premier League is no secret. After signing Joshua King, Ashley Fletcher, Emmanuel Dennis, and Dapo Mebude, the Hornets’ centre-forward force has no shortages. With Troy Deeney and Joao Pedro set to play a role next season too, as well as Cucho Hernandez returning from his loan spell, the club have a surplus of players capable of playing in the forward positions. Isaac Success, Stipe Perica, and Andre Gray are also still on the Hornets’ books. However, recent reports claim Watford are not done with their search for a prolific attacker, with an initial move for Adam Armstrong rumoured to be turned down.
Both Cases to Consider in Watford’s Pursuit of Adam Armstrong
Watford See Adam Armstrong Bid Rejected
According to Alan Nixon of The Sun, Watford’s £15 million bid for Armstrong was rejected by Blackburn Rovers. An Andre Gray loan was part of the deal, to both balance Watford’s books and offer Blackburn a temporary Armstrong replacement. Sean McCormick of Chronicle Live adds that Newcastle United are likely to keep a close eye on the transfer as they will take 40% of any fee Blackburn receive due to a clause in Armstrong’s transfer to the Championship side in 2018.
With Armstrong entering the last year of his contract, Blackburn run the risk of losing him permanently next summer for no profit.
Reasons Why Watford Should Continue to Pursue the Transfer
One thing is for certain with Armstrong: he loves to score goals and does so at an impressive rate when considering minutes-per-goal averages. In the Championship last season, he scored 28 times and provided five assists. The season prior, he contributed 16 goals and six assists. Over the last two seasons, he averaged one goal contribution per 135 minutes. Last season alone, the rate was one goal contribution per 112 minutes.
The Hornets will have no doubt Armstrong knows how to find the back of the net with consistency. The 24-year-old’s rapid pace and willingness to make progressive runs with the ball may complement Ismaila Sarr’s pace out wide on counterattacks. Considering his success rate in the Championship compared to Watford’s centre-forward returners from last season, Armstrong performed much better overall.
However, that is not to say a move for him falls in the no brainer category.
The Case to Avoid the Transfer
First and foremost, £15 million, even for a recently promoted team, is a lot of money to spend. Considering the number of attacking options Watford have, a new striker is not as necessary as finding a replacement for the potentially departing Will Hughes in the event the former Derby County star does indeed leave.
And, even though Armstrong is a clear threat in front of the net, he risks sacrificing the effectiveness of Watford’s wide players. If Watford were to sign Armstrong, they would need to provide him with a high number of opportunities per match for him to be effective. He averaged 4.7 shots per match and 6.8 shots per goal last season. For perspective, Ivan Toney averaged 3.0 shots per match and 4.4 shots per goal. Kieffer Moore averaged 2.5 shots per match and 5.4 shots per goal. Thus, in comparison to the other Championship top strikers, Armstrong needed considerably more attempts to be effective. In the Premier League, Watford will not dominate possession as Blackburn frequently did last season, meaning chances for Armstrong would be fewer and further between.
Between how Watford need to offer more than £15 million and already brought in other solid attacking improvements, the money is perhaps better spent elsewhere. A club like Watford would be better off having a player of Armstrong’s talents in their squad, though the extent of improvement may not be worth the price or risk.