Friday, February 3, 2023

Watford Linked With The ‘Next Hazard’: Is He The Solution To Their Playmaking Woes?

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Sourav Bhakat
An ardent sports lover who loves to sleep, eat and watch Manchester City play. In that order.

Watford have been heavily linked with a move for Lille forward Sofiane Boufal who has incidentally been christened the ‘next Hazard’. A piece of report which would have elicited a certain degree of shock and bemusement a couple of weeks back is being treated as a run-of-the-mill bit of revelation after the daredevil transfers of a certain newly promoted Middlesbrough this summer.

Watford had an impressive season last year but their solid displays were somewhat over-shadowed by the Leicester fairy-tale. Quique Sánchez Flores led them admirably to a 13th place finish which for a brief period of time looked to be possibly even higher. They were more than a match for all the teams in the Premier league and the suggestions that they would be found out due to the gulf in class in the Championship and Premier League proved to be a non-starter.

They did a lot of things right last season and the foremost among them was the partnership up top between Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney. They emanated immense positivity and understanding and led from the front and according to reports have shown loyalty by rebuking any interest from elsewhere. Watford also showed resolute defense, as of all the teams from seventh to twentieth in the table, they surrendered the second least number of goals, sitting right in the middle of that sample size at 13th.

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While there were plenty of positives, one aspect of their game which stood out like a sore thumb was their creativity from midfield and attacking areas. There was a huge reliance on the front two and it seemed as if they had the monopoly of scoring goals. There was extreme dearth of creative play with the absence of a player who could provide the ammunition for the star strikers to finish. With 7 and 3 assists respectively, Deeney and Ighalo carried the burden of turning provider as well. The rest of the team provided just 8 assists combined which leaves a lot to be desired.

And this is exactly what has brought Watford to the doorsteps of Lille in pursuit of their star attacker. Boufal was the majority-provider for Lille last season, as the club pushed to a mid-table finish. But Boufal clearly deserves a better, more powerful set up to work with. He may have the perfect niche carved out for him at Watford. Christened as the next ‘Eden Hazard’, this fleet-footed attacking player is capable of playing across the front-line.

He has a huge repertoire of strengths and is known for his dribbling ability and shooting from distance. He is a good header of the ball, which will hold him in good stead in the Premier League. He is also known for his crossing and takes majority of the set-pieces for Lille. He has scored 15 goals and provided 10 assists for them and according to reports he is open to a move to Walter Mazzarri’s Watford project.

Watford F.C will be making a huge statement of intent if they are able to pull of this transfer which would require a sum of around £15m to prize the player away from the club.

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