In Focus: New signings set to give the Hornets a real sting
Premier League survival will be the name of the game for Watford this season — and they have already been busy in the transfer window to beef up Xisco Munoz's squad.
The Hornets have conducted their dealings in the same manner as their march to promotion from the Championship — swiftly and with minimal fuss.
Ahead of today’s pre-season friendly West Brom, we examine the club's business so far.
Attack, attack, attack
The area of Watford's squad in most need of attention this summer was their attack.
Despite finishing as runners-up to Norwich in the Championship last season, Xisco's side were only the division’s sixth-highest scorers with 63 goals.
The Hornets have bolstered their options by bringing in Club Brugge forward Emmanuel Dennis, Middlesbrough striker Ashley Fletcher and former Everton frontman Joshua King.
Nigerian international Dennis, who scored against Zenit in the Champions League last term, will offer a pacy alternative to Ismaila Sarr, Ken Sema and Joao Pedro out wide.
Fletcher, 25, is unlikely to be a regular starter but his height and speed make him an asset — as does his homegrown player status.
Those arrivals should mean a reduced role for long-serving captain Troy Deeney, 33, while Cucho Hernandez has finally returned after spending the last four seasons on loan in Spain.
Watford’s capture of King, 29, is particularly interesting.
The Norwegian was the subject of a £20million offer from Manchester United last year but endured a tough 2020-21, playing just 148 minutes after joining Everton in January.
Moving to Vicarage Road has reunited him with former Bournemouth team-mate Dan Gosling, who switched to the Hornets in January.
Gosling, 31, said: "I’ve played with him for a long time.
"He’s played deeper and drops in as a No10. He can play as an out-and-out No9 and off the left and right, so there’s a lot of versatility.
"That’ll be good over the course of the season with injuries and he’ll bring different qualities for different games."
Middle of the park
With Will Hughes, 26, becoming a free agent next summer, Watford may be forced to bring in more midfield recruits.
Aston Villa and Newcastle are reportedly keen on the former England Under-21 international but the Hornets are desperately trying to extend his contract.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Hughes, the club have wasted little time bolstering Xisco's options in the middle of the park.
Imran Louza, 22, was handed a five-year contract after being snapped up from Nantes for £8.6million.
Comfortable in a variety of roles, the former France U-21 international is a classy ball-playing midfielder.
Complementing Louza’s arrival is Nigerian international Peter Etebo, 25, who has joined on a season-long loan from Stoke.
This will be Etebo’s third loan spell away from the Potteries and Watford have the option to make the move permanent if the former Getafe and Galatasaray loanee impresses.
Twelve years after making a handful of appearances on loan at Watford, Danny Rose has rejoined the Hornets on a permanent basis.
Rose, 31, left Tottenham at the end of his contract and has signed a two-year deal at Vicarage Road.
The 29-cap England international has not played a competitive game since the end of the 2019-20 campaign after being frozen out at Spurs by Jose Mourinho.
But he will offer much-needed competition for Algerian international Adam Masina, who was the club’s only senior left-back for much of last term.
Balancing the books
With all the new arrivals, Watford have far too many players on their books — and something has to give.
The Hornets are trying to move on a number of fringe squad members, particularly in the forward department.
Andre Gray, Isaac Success and Stipe Perica are all surplus to requirements, along with right-back Marc Navarro.
Philip Zinckernagel, who impressed after joining from Bodo/Glimt in January, may be loaned out — as could Pontus Dahlberg and Tom Dele-Bashiru.
With their return to Premier League action just under a month away, Watford have already shown they mean business this summer.