Watford Boss Speaks Out On £43 Million Transfer Rumours

Watford head coach Valerien Ismael has claimed that he hasn’t seen “any sign of distraction” from star attacker Yaser Asprilla amid links to some top clubs in Europe this past week.

The Hornets are pushing for promotion back to the Premier League, having spent the last two seasons in the Championship. However, a difficult start to 2024 has left the Hertfordshire club ten points off the playoffs prior to this weekend’s results.

Ismael’s side picked up an important 1-0 away at bottom-of-the-table Rotherham United last weekend, putting a three-game losing streak to bed which saw the club drop into a mid-table position in England’s second tier.

Furthermore, Watford have managed to pick up merely three victories in 11 matches in all competitions since the turn of the year, including a narrow win over National League outfit Chesterfield in the FA Cup thanks to a goal from Tom Dele-Bashiru in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

It’s been a tricky campaign for the Hornets as results have been quite inconsistent on the pitch. However, one star who has shone the brightest is 20-year-old Asprilla. The Colombian has bagged six goals and recorded five assists under Ismael’s guidance.

Earlier this week, reports emerged from Spanish outlet Sport that La Liga champions Barcelona are interested in pursuing a deal for Asprilla once the summer transfer window rolls around, but face competition from clubs in the English top-flight.

This was backed up by journalist Adrian Sanchez who revealed that the Catalan club’s sporting director Deco has extensively scouted the playmaker and was left impressed by his displays as well as his versatility across the frontline.

In his pre-match press conference ahead of Watford’s clash with Huddersfield Town at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon, Ismael was asked about the rumours and gave an intriguing answer [quotes via the Watford Observer]:

“I think this is a reward for the club and for the policy to make the transfers with young players.

“It is also [a] reward for the work we have done with young players because one of the main topics when I came to Watford was to develop young players,” he continued.

“So actually we are on track with our jobs, and we are seeing the reward for all the work we have put into them.”

Additionally, the French coach stated that he hasn’t noticed any signs of Asprilla being negatively affected by the rumours linking him with a move to one of the world’s biggest clubs.

“I didn’t see any sign of distraction.”

Writer’s View

Watford hold all the cards in this situation. The club reportedly value Asprilla at between £34-43 million and he also still has two-and-a-half-years remaining on his current contract, meaning there is no rush to sell him.

However, the manager is right with respect to his comments. A player in the Championship being linked with one of the best teams in the world means that he has been developed properly by the coaching staff.

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