Why the Potential Departure of Will Hughes Will Not Damage Watford’s Survival Hopes

Will Hughes
Spread the love

Watford have already signed Peter Etebo, Juraj Kucka, Imran Louza, and Ozan Tufan as midfield reinforcements this transfer window. With the contract scenarios surrounding Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah uncertain, such business was necessary to ensure that the Hornets were not weak in the centre of the park for their return to top-flight football. And now, with a Hughes departure inching closer, will the Hornets be able to cope without him?

Will Hughes Potential Departure Not Detrimental to Hornets’ Survival Chances

What Watford Would Miss

In the Hornets’ promotion campaign, once Xisco Munoz took charge following Hughes’ return from injury, the former Derby County prodigy lined up in the defensive-minded number-six midfield role. His consistency and class spearheaded the Hornets’ promotion charge, leading to the Englishman’s emergence as one of the club’s leaders. Watford performed notably better whenever he was on the pitch.

The ease at which he played in front of the backline to help robustly defend and provide an effective conduit from defensive phases of play to attacking phases, is something anyone playing in that role in Xisco’s current 4-1-4-1 system needs to provide. Even if Xisco changed tactics, Hughes’ versatility means he still would have been able to thrive in a different central-midfield role.

The Replacements

Earlier in this transfer window, Watford signed Etebo on loan from Stoke City and permanently secured the services of Louza from Nantes. Both are adept at playing in the role Hughes did last season, with Etebo being the man to takeover so far. And, truth be told, Etebo has likely performed just as well as Hughes would have if the contract stalemate did not exist. Especially shown in the club’s opening-day victory over Aston Villa, the Super Eagles midfielder has tremendous ball-carrying ability and defensive acumen.

Louza, although only featuring for 45 of the club’s first 180 Premier League minutes this season and as a more advanced-midfielder, is also well suited to playing in the deep-lying role if necessary. And, like Hughes, Louza is left-footed and very versatile. Perhaps it was his arrival – considering how similar he can be to Hughes – that led the 26-year-old and his agent to seek a departure.

The Hornets recently secured the services of Tufan from Fenerbahce. The talented 26-year-old is defensively sound, but as a bonus, he is also extremely creative and has an eye for goal, scoring six times in each of the last two seasons, in addition to providing 13 assists in that span.

The Routes Out for Will Hughes

With Crystal Palace and Burnley vying for Hughes’ signature, it is only a matter of time before the Hornets warrant his departure. After all, if they do not sell him now, they will have to continue to pay his current wages before losing him for nothing next summer. Considering the new midfielders arriving at Watford, there is unlikely to be any space to even include him in the 25-man roster.

Any team in Watford’s position would love to have a player such as Hughes in their squad. Fortunately for them, after many pieces of shrewd pieces of transfer business, there are no shortage of Hughes-esque players at Vicarage Road. Perhaps the profits from his transfer could be used on an even-more direct replacement (or even upgrade), such as once-linked Okay Yokuslu.

Main Photo
Embed from Getty Images