With Watford attaining promotion from the Championship last season, the Pozzo family acquired more signings than any other Premier League side in a bid to retain top flight football at Vicarage Road.
13 newcomers arrived in total during a transfer window which shut, rather undramatically, on Tuesday. Although the number seems extravagant, a new manager at the helm in the form of Quique Flores Sanchez meant the Spaniard would inevitably want to obtain his own personnel. This factor, alongside many others, is arguably why those who impressed last campaign have been shown the door.
Much has been made of the club’s transfers since a takeover in 2012 with an abundance of players arriving from Udinese and Granada respectively, all three sides sharing the same owner. This policy caused outrage but this perfectly legal business model ensured Watford’s return to England’s first division was noticeably cost-effective, signing a plethora of talent from abroad with no fees.
This summer saw a different approach as the Hornets spent just over an estimated £35m on the likes of Jose Manuel Jurado, Etienne Capoue and Valon Behrami amongst others. The £6m fee spent on the former is £4.25m more than the Championship runners-up parted with since the turn of the decade.
Although much of the attention has been on who the 1984 FA Cup finalists have purchased in recent years, those who were let go have also attracted interest this summer. 17 players departed Hertfordshire, either on loan or on a permanent basis, including some fan favourites and senior internationals in what could be viewed as a ruthless approach from the typically family orientated club.
The large proportion of the loanees are far from youngsters, with just one under the age of 21 and five being over 25. Plenty were instrumental in guiding their parent club to the promised land and even to the ultimately disappointing play-off final in 2013. Matej Vydra started at Wembley that day after participating in 41 league matches in the same season.
Matej Vydra's success at Watford was not replicated
Vydra looked increasingly promising that campaign, a 21-year-old loanee from Udinese who won the Championship Player of the Year award as he converted 20 league goals including one in the famed play-off semi-final with Leicester City. Becoming a revelation down south as he captured the imagination of fans who had seen their club struggle with financial issues and relegation battles years beforehand, the Czech Republic international netted some sensational strikes whilst showcasing his footballing intelligence.
Knowledge of his ability inevitably escaped the league, with the in-demand forward tempting West Brom to complete a deal to take him further north. On yet another loan, the ex-Banik Ostrava man was restricted to just a handful of appearances in the Midlands as he found it difficult to adapt to life in the Premier League.
Three goals for the Baggies was not efficient enough for the club to reinvigorate any interest in the now 23-year-old, who was sent back to Italy deflated after such a prosperous tenure with the Hornets under Gianfranco Zola.
Vydra then returned to the comfort of Vicarage Road on yet another loan, in a bid to prove himself once more. A further 16 goals in the Championship helped his new side achieve promotion following a 13th place finish the previous year and conclusively proved his touch in front of goal and invaluable presence in that Watford starting XI was not lost.
Method behind Reading transfer
Matej Vydra’s loan move to Reading was unexpected, especially after stating he wanted to prove himself in the top flight following his stint at West Brom. He told the press that his time at the Hawthorns meant he “had to wake up, work hard and train more” before proclaiming that “every player wants to play and be successful in the Premier League” and that he was no different.
Seemingly motivated to achieve something with the Hornets, appearing on the substitutes bench for three of Watford’s first four league games this season whilst starting against Preston North End in the Capital One Cup, the move caught many off guard. The newcomers have also struggled to find any goalscoring form thus far, scoring just twice in all competitions whilst deploying club captain Troy Deeney up front on his own.
Although the manager seemingly has faith in the Golden Boys' top goalscorer of the last three successive seasons, the club ensured further firepower was on it’s way on the final day of the window. Mamadou Oulare and Victor Ibarbo were collected from Club Brugge and Cagliari respectively, in hope of restoring the form of an attack that made them so feared last term.
An improvement on Vydra? This remains to be seen due to the international break, however it appears that money had an impact on the transfer which saw Vydra temporarily depart. It has been reported, most recently by WD Sport, that a £2.5m loan fee was agreed when the striker signed the contract with an option-to-buy clause included in the same deal.
This move, which reunites Vydra with former manager Steve Clarke, may only be for one year but matches the fee Reading paid for record signing Emerse Fae in 2007. The Ivory Coast man failed to make an impact at the Madejski Stadium but hopes are higher for his Czech counterpart, hence why promotion for the Royals will spell a £10m permanent deal for the player.
Reading’s newboy also had the opportunity to join both Fulham and table-toppers Brighton, but was impressed by the ambition shown by co-owner Anton Zingarevich. The Berkshire outfit faced a similar position to Vydra’s parent club, also scoring just twice in their opening four games before an impressive 3-1 victory away at Brentford, so a move is likely to suit all three parties.
An ambitious Reading side may only sit 13th in the table but the impressive transfers made, including that of Vydra’s former Watford team-mate Jonathan Bond, coupled alongside just two first team sales, may ensure Matej Vydra will be playing Premier League football next season regardless of the club he represents.