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Which Watford player should Arsenal target?

Strengthening via the Hornets?

Manchester United v Watford - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Elneny is returning. Lacazette is heading off to Lyon. But the transfer market has yet to really kick-off for Arsenal just yet. So let’s hop back into the transfer game in which we pick up one player from all three of the relegated sides. Up next is Watford who had just six league wins and let in 77 goals. Surely there is a bounty of options.

If I’m honest, there were large portions of the season in which I forgot Watford was even involved in the Premier League this season. At this point, I cannot recall a single one of their matches that I watched, outside of the two against Arsenal. So clearly, they won’t be missed in the top-flight for the 2022-23 campaign. However, like with most relegated teams, there are individuals who still deserve a shot within a Premier League squad.

So let’s recall the task. You are managing Arsenal and you have to purchase at least one Watford player. No passes, no skips. Let’s consider our options.

Previous Entries: Norwich City

Emmanuel Dennis

Position: Attacker (LW/CF/RW)

Projected Value: $9 million

Argument For: Still just 24, Dennis had an impressive season amongst Watford’s Premier League demise. In his first year in England, he led the team in goals (10) and assists (6). These performances have led to his return to the Nigerian National Team and already sparked rumors of a summer transfer to West Ham. While his final price will probably surpass that valuation, you can see why Premier League clubs are interested in adding Dennis. A player who clearly is capable in England’s top flight and could be a useful addition to Arsenal either on the wing or up top as they rotate the squad next season.

Cucho Hernández

Position: Forward

Projected Value: $10 million

Argument For: Initially signed by Watford back to 2017, Cucho has been quite the loanee journeyman. He has spent time with CD América in Columbia’s top flight, SD Huesca in La Liga 2, Mallorca in La Liga and most recently staying in Spain’s top division with Getafe. 2021-22 marked his full chance to remain at Watford, with his time being split between starting and a late sub. However, he managed five goals and three assists. So still only 22, Cucho is right on that borderline of taking a flyer on him in the EPL or Watford utilizing him more next season in the Championship.

Josh King

Position: Forward

Projected Value: $9 million

Argument For: Coming up through the later stages of the Manchester United academy, King then spent two years at Blackburn, six at Bournemouth, and a few months at Everton before landing at Watford last summer. It’s his experience playing in England that would be the biggest selling factor for Arsenal. Surely they are going after one big signing at forward, to then be supplemented by perhaps Eddie Nketiah or Folarin Balogun. But the club could also use a third option with experience and a slightly different playing style. Across those clubs (let's exclude the 11 Everton matches), King has scored 68 goals and provided 23 assists from 290 matches. So a goal or assist about every three matches. Would you consider him for say $10 million as Arsenal’s third striker next season?

João Pedro

Position: Forward

Projected Value: $11 million

Argument For: After helping Watford get promoted last season (9g + 4a), the young Brazilian attacker found life a bit harder in the Premier League (4/1). Just 20 years old and with that price tag, there are plenty of transfer rumors swirling around Pedro, including Liverpool and West Ham. Surprisingly, he’s yet to make his debut for any of Brazil’s U23 or U21 sides. Watford will want to keep him as a core piece in their pursuit of immediately bouncing back up to the Premier League, but an offer of $20-25 million may force their hand. He would fit in nicely with Arsenal’s attacking core, but likely as a #2 up top.

Ismaïla Sarr

Position: Right Winger

Projected Value: $30 million

Argument For: Watford can’t keep all of these attacking players next season. Some will push for moves and others will get offers that are too tempting. Sarr has been on the transfer radar for a few seasons now since he arrived from Stade Rennais. He’s put up 24 goals & 18 assists during his 92 matches at Watford and has become a key player for the Senegalese National Team. Now might be the right time to cash in on Sarr’s value and focus their efforts on retaining the likes of Cucho, Dennis, or Pedro. A handful of clubs are reportedly interested such as Newcastle, Crystal Palace, and Everton. After swinging big with Pepe on the right, and having the known quality of Bukayo Saka, it’s doubtful this would be money well spent here. Especially when they have Reiss Nelson available. For that price range, they could probably walk away with Dennis & King.

All five here are attacking players and that’s really what I mostly expected to find as potential options at Watford. How much can you take from a side’s defense letting in 77 goals? Right-back Kiko Femenía was second in assists for them but at 31 he isn’t an upgrade over Cedric. After him, there wasn’t a single defender that led to more than either one goal or one assist. So which of the above five players would you sign to Arsenal this summer? Or is there someone else you would like to make the case for in the comments below?