Watford had a fairly eventful January, bringing in three decent signings and sending out a bunch of youngsters on loan. Their biggest activity however, was losing 50% of last year’s star strike force, to the Chinese Super League. Odion Ighalo set the league on fire as his partnership with club veteran Troy Deeney was frighteningly consistent. Sadly, Ighalo had fallen out of favour at Vicarage Road after he suffered a severe case of second season syndrome. He scored just three goals in his last 36 appearances for the club. As a result, he was forced to swap his Iggy Chop for Chop Suey, when he became the latest in a long line of average Premier League players to be signed in China for an inflated price tag. In this case Ighalo set Changchun Yatai back £20million. Seriously, it seems as though the entire Chinese Super League is managed by Brendan Rodgers circa 2011. Ighalo seemed reluctant to go, which is unsurprising as many share the same viewpoint as Arjen Robben. The Dutchman was offered a chance to move to the goldmine, but turned it down saying that a transfer to China is “basically acknowledging your career is over”.
Walter Mazzarri will be hoping he’s secured a short term replacement for Ighalo as he managed to sign AC Milan striker M’Baye Niang on loan. The Frenchman comes very highly spoken of, despite only scoring three goals in his 18 Serie A appearances this season. At least he’s 50% better than Ighalo I suppose. Niang has previously drawn comparisons to Mario Balotelli. I not sure if that means good things for the Hornets, or if it means he’ll lie down during stretches, pretend a corner flag is his penis and generally just look bored most of the time. No matter which Balotelli Junior they’ve signed, I’m sure he’ll score just enough goals to keep everybody interested.
Watford also signed two midfielders who are both still trying to prove themselves in English football. Mauro Zarate and Tom Cleverley have played in 10 different English shirts between the two of them. Zarate first played in his native Argentina before a short move to Qatar, which has set him up perfectly to be the player of the tournament in 2022. He has constantly switched between English and Italian football since then, most recently at West Ham and Fiorentina. His fee to join Watford, of around about £1.6million, means you could build an entire starting XI of Mauro Zarate’s for the price of one Odion Ighalo. I don’t think that’s anything anyone involved in football would want to do, except for maybe Vincent Tan, but it’s fun to figure out the exchange rates.
I’d give Watford’s business this January a solid B-, fairly average but with some positives for sure. The fact that the updated squad manged to beat Arsenal, at the Emirates on deadline day, is one positive for sure. This came the day after Arsene Wenger justified another January window without a major signing, by claiming it is the strongest squad he’s ever had. Oh Arsene, when will you ever learn? Another positive is that, to the dismay of Wilfried Zaha, they managed to hang on to Harry the Hornet despite major interest from several clubs. Sadly, a big money move to Jiangsu Suning in the summer is on the cards.