Importance of Premier League know-how is being lost on Watford

Watford’s spending spree ahead of their first season back in the Premier League shows no sign of stopping with a move for Sampdoria’s Stefano Okaka the latest in a line of players to be linked to a move to Vicarage Road from the continent.

But while the likes of Okaka, Diego Perotti and Davide Zappacosta all sound exciting to Hornets fans, the Hertfordshire club could be better placed looking closer to home for their new signings.

Premier League experience is something that is fairly lacking in the Watford squad.

Just six of their current players, after the arrival of Etienne Capoue from Spurs, have made more than 20 top-flight appearances in England.

Of the six sides that have been promoted to the Premier League in the last two seasons, only Burnley had fewer.

Their 20th place finish in 2014-15 could be seen as a real sighter for the need for experience at the highest level.

A striker and defender seems to be the positions Quique Flores is looking to fill, and with the likes of Rickie Lambert (12/1 to join Watford) and Dimitar Berbatov both linked with moves away from their clubs, there are ample opportunities to bring in a target man with experience of the division.

However, while experience is a neccesity, they must strike a balance with any journeymen making Watford their home this summer.

While QPR had an experienced squad including 14 players who had made 20+ Premier League starts last season, nine of those where aged 30 or older.

The year before that, of Cardiff’s seven squad members with ample experience in the league, four were 31+.

With both of those sides seeing themselves go straight back down, Watford (and Norwich and Bournemouth for that matter) need to be wary about signing too many old players.

In the 2013-14 season both Crystal Palace and Hull seemed to have the right idea, with 13 and 12 players respectively with 20+ PL caps, the vast majority of them the ‘right’ side of 30.

A top 10 finish for Palace and an FA Cup final alongside survival for the Tigers saw them reap the rewards.

Players like the out-of-favour Victor Moses or Liverpool’s Fabio Borini would add bite to the Hornets attack, while avoiding the route of signing too many over-the-hill veterans.

At the back, defenders Jonny Evans and Vlad Chiriches are just two players with adequate top-flight experience that could be available for transfers to bolster their rear-guard.

Such players are only examples, but what is becoming abundantly clear this transfer window, is that Watford need to look away from the exotic sounding players from foreign clubs and look for performers that have been there and done it.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.