Watford have confirmed they are trying to sign a new striker – one of the revelations made during a fan Q&A event where the club’s approach in the transfer market came under sharp focus.

Five new players have arrived during this summer window, but there has been a more restrained approach to spending. Only Tom Ince’s acquisition from Reading has cost money, and that deal was done for a mere £50,000.

Chairman/CEO Scott Duxbury – who attended the Q&A at Watford’s training ground along with technical director Ben Manga, sporting director Cristiano Giaretta, head coach Valerien Ismael and captain Daniel Bachmann – was asked if that prospective striker would still be signed if he were to cost up to £10million.

“On the basis that we are currently negotiating for a new No 9 I’m not going to say that we’re going to pay £8m, £9m or £10m. But our whole philosophy is, if it’s the right player for the development and the future of the club then of course we’ll bring that player in and that hasn’t changed.”

That ‘right player’ is unlikely to be a big money signing, though, and that doesn’t appear to concern Ismael, who is involved in the process.

“What we try to create and implement means teamwork and what we need to make sure when we speak to the player is that he gives us that feeling that he wants to be part of that process and Watford means something for him, not only to see how much money he can earn,” he said. “If that is not there, even if they cost £10million I will say to Scott (Duxbury) and the board, ‘Sorry, but he is not the right player for me,’ It’s not necessarily the expensive one that will help you. One player can destroy a team.”

Valerien Ismael (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Unity, according to Giaretta, is coming to the fore: “I don’t see any dichotomy in the group so we are very happy with what we did so far. We need to talk about Vakoun Bayo (who has scored two goals in two games) and Rhys Healey (free agent, formerly of Toulouse). Bayo is giving us and improving a lot and Rhys is back from a long injury but the previous two seasons he scored 35 goals in France, which is also an important level.”

Finding the right man, needs collaboration according to Manga: “We have a plan of what we need. We support and we speak every day with the coach. We want to sign new players so that the head coach can have more options.”

The bottom line, especially in the final year of parachute payments, is a key component of any deal. Giaretta says the club has to keep “an open eye on sustainability” when assessing targets. “You can see how many clubs are struggling and to get the club sustainable is the main part of our job. We want to try to go back to the Premier League but today we are a Championship club. We have to be humble. We don’t want to kill the club by bringing in Harry Kane, for example. We have to be aware of what we can and cannot do.”

Duxbury says the drop in revenue from Premier League to Championship, “doesn’t afford the recruitment philosophy” and emphasised that the club is “trying to go back to our core DNA. We want to get the young players, develop them and bring them through. That was our philosophy at the beginning, we lost our way a little bit, but this pre-season we’ve gone back to our core.

“There needs to be a mix, as we’ve demonstrated this season with bringing in senior players like Jake Livermore. But ideally we will find those young players, bring them in early and develop them into 40, 50 million pound players.”

Watford’s clear-out of senior players like Craig Cathcart, Christian Kabasele, William Troost-Ekong and Tom Cleverley (retained as under-18 coach) in addition to the high-profile sales of Joao Pedro to Brighton and Ismaila Sarr to Marseille have helped streamline the wage bill.

“It’s about closing a chapter and opening a new one,” said Giaretta. “The manager was the first human resource we signed this season and we immediately started to assess the new season. The manager wanted to create – and we agreed with him – a new mentality, to refresh the group.”

Ismaila Sarr has moved to Marseille (Clement Mahoudeau/AFP via Getty Images)

So what is the aim? “To create a new atmosphere, a new energy. We released important players, they gave Watford a lot. We brought in and will keep bringing in players who want to sweat for the badge,” says Giaretta. “It’s not only about money. If the first (discussion) you have about a player is only about the money, we’re not going in the right direction.”

Duxbury admits the cautious approach is reaping rewards: “Technically you might say we’ve had better squads, that’s a debate, but I think this is the best team and best squad I’ve been a part of during pre-season.”

When the Pozzo era started in 2012, there was an initial influx from sister club Udinese. This summer Kabasele, Joao Ferreira, Domingos Quina and Hassane Kamara have all gone to Italy with Matheus Martins being loaned to Watford for a second season. There could be more transitions.

“Udinese is important, it gives us an opportunity to exchange the players if they are not working out for some reason. That happened recently with Isaac Success, and now he is doing very well in Italy,” said Giaretta, who knows when budgets are tight, temporary solutions are often the answer. “The loan market is an interesting market.

“If you approach an important player in the Premier League, they are asking for an important amount, so the loan is always an option for us but mainly we evaluate the player from a technical point of view, which is the most important motivation.

“Our recruitment is worldwide, not only Udinese. Already we have brought in five players and four are English.”

An audience member said that he admired Callum Styles and Alex Mowatt, two players Ismael managed at Barnsley, “Me too,” the head coach said with a smile. “It’s about the opportunities you get and on the left back position for example (where Styles can operate) we are more than satisfied with James Morris and Lewis brings some great quality. In the midfield at the moment we are really good and we have a big surprise with (Francisco) Sierralta.”

Ismael wants to give more opportunities to his existing squad, but with one eye on further additions: “I would like for the first few games to see all the players in action, more (that haven’t played yet) will come in and I want a real chance to assess the situation to see if these players (will) continue the journey or we need to something (in the transfer market).”



‘What’s going on with Watford?’ It’s early days but ‘ValBall’ is worth watching

At a club that doesn’t usually give head coaches time to show their worth, Duxbury suggested there has been a gear change.

“We believe in the work and how that is translating to the pitch. It’s a game of results and we’re aware there will be bad moments, but we’re going to stay patient and we need the supporters to stay patient. It’s very difficult to bring in coaches mid-season and try to get a change because they can’t impart their work or their pre-season which is everything. We’re certainly going to stand by and see that grow because we believe in it.”

Duxbury also appeared to clear up Yaser Asprilla’s future, who is admired by many teams in the Premier League and Europe. The fact he was an unused substitute in both of Watford’s games this season led to concerns he was being protected ahead of a sale. “I don’t know what he’s looking to do, but he’s not leaving,” was the bullish response.

News that is likely to be music to the ears of the club’s most famous fan and former owner Elton John, who is set to become even more involved in the club in the coming weeks and months.

“(Contact) takes place on a daily basis, his input is valued and he’s very, very involved,” explained Duxbury. “He’s currently in France, but when he returns home, he’s going to come more to the training ground. He phones if not daily, then every other day wanting updates, so he’s very much involved.”

(Top photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images)