Stay or Go? Deciding Which Players Watford Should Keep and Offload This Summer

Despite a great deal of early promise, the 2017/18 season proved to be no less of a struggle than the previous two campaigns for Watford. 


After a strong start to the season during which the Hornets lost just one of their first eight games, the wheels came off Marco Silva's reign at the club so spectacularly that the manager was sacked in January. 


The club then spent the remainder of the season limping to the finish line under Silva's replacement Javi Gracia. Though the Spaniard has endured a difficult first few months at Vicarage Road, it appears he will be given more time to lift Watford's fortunes and the summer transfer window will be key to achieving this.


With a number of players returning from loan deals, Watford's squad is currently very bloated and a number of names are in need of purging from the list in order to make room for new signings that will improve the squad overall.


Here is the comprehensive list of who Gracia should fight to keep at Watford this summer - and who he may be happy to let go...

1. Goalkeepers

Heurelho Gomes - STAY - Gomes has had his ups and downs but with this summer being the ten-year anniversary of his move to Spurs, the 37-year-old Brazilian has earned the title of Premier League veteran. First choice or not, his experience and leadership could still be of great use to Watford.


Orestis Karnezis - GO - Injuries to Gomes allowed this loan signing from Udinese to stake his claim for the no.1 jersey. Despite some good performances, Karnezis never fully made the role his own and Watford could probably do better.


Daniel Bachmann - STAY - The 23-year-old Austrian is yet to make an appearance for the Hornets but is still young for a keeper and could develop into a fine player yet. Worth giving some time.


Pontus Dahlberg - STAY (LOAN) - Signed from Goteborg in January and loaned back for the rest of the season, the 19-year-old has been earning praise already and could be a star in the future. However, it is probably too early for the young Swede just yet and could do with gaining more experience on loan.


Costel Pantilimon - GO - The ex-Manchester City man has hardly made a name for himself in Hertfordshire after two years, besides for being probably the tallest person ever to play for Watford. With better and younger options available, it might be time to say goodbye to Pantilimon.

2. Full Backs

Daryl Janmaat - STAY - The Netherlands international isn't the most consistent and looked as though he was on the verge of losing his place to Kiko Femenia until injuries allowed him back into the side. However, it is hard to imagine where the Hornets would be able to find an affordable backup right back who could do a better job than Janmaat.


Kiko Femenia - STAY - One of the more successful signings to join the club last summer, 27-year-old Femenia offers more pace and attacking threat than Janmaat while being arguably more consistent defensively. One to hang on to for certain.


Jose Holebas - GO - Holebas is a feisty character who gives his all on the pitch, but he also presents a risk whenever he plays - the 33-year-old always has a rash decision in him which can cost his side dearly. Only really in the squad because of a lack of suitable alternatives.


Marvin Zeegelaar - GO - Speaking of unsuitable alternatives, Dutch full back Zeegelaar has proved to be exactly that this year as his defensive shortcomings and lack of attacking prowess has stopped him from even making the bench for much of the season. It is unlikely that Watford will replace both of their left backs in one window but Zeegelaar should be the first one out the door.


Brice Dja Djedje - GO - Two years and two appearances after joining the club, it seems as though Ivorian full back Dja Djedje is unlikely to make it at Watford and should be moved on. 


Dimitri Foulquier - STAY - Despite not making an appearance for Watford yet after spending his first season on loan at Strasbourg, Foulquier still has the potential to improve and the club should not rush to move him on. The defender has represented France up to Under-21 level and could develop into a fine player - though at 25, the clock is certainly ticking at this point.

3. Centre Backs

Christian Kabasele - STAY - Watford's best centre half by a mile, it is essential that the Hornets keep the Belgian this summer in order to retain what defensive stability they have. More comfortable on the ball than his fellow defenders and willing to put his body on the line, Kabasele has done enough to earn his place on the team sheet.


Younes Kaboul - GO - Kaboul is a decent player but his best years are certainly behind him now, the Frenchman no longer capable of stringing more than a few games together. The former Spurs and Portsmouth man hardly featured in 2017/18 because of injuries and his squad place could go to a new signing.


Miguel Britos - GO - The 32-year-old is another player to struggle with injuries this season but the defender has hardly been missed by the Watford faithful after some truly shambolic performances prior to his absence. Out of contract this summer and quite possibly a name destined for the chopping block.


Sebastian Prodl - STAY - The Austria international had a disappointing campaign after being names Watford's player of the season in 2016/17, but the defender could yet find his form again and become a useful option for Javi Gracia.


Adrian Mariappa - STAY - It feels as though Mariappa has been at Watford since the dawn of time, yet the experienced centre half was still one of the better performing defenders at Watford's disposal last season. Though perhaps not the most technically gifted player, Mariappa makes up for his shortcomings in hard work and dedication to the cause.


Molla Wague - GO - Despite scoring against Leicester early in his Watford career, the loanee spent most of the season unable to break into the side and it is unlikely the club will make any efforts to bring him back for next season.


Craig Cathcart - STAY - Yet another unfortunate player in this squad to be blighted by injuries in recent times, Cathcart should be given a chance to prove he can still cut the mustard for Watford. If nothing else, he has been at the club long enough to serve as a leader figure within the squad.


Tommie Hoban - GO - Injuries have prevented Hoban from making an appearance for Watford in over three years. At 24, the defender is no longer a particularly young prospect and it may be time for the Hornets to cut their losses and seek to improve the squad.

4. Centre Midfielders

Abdoulaye Doucoure - STAY - A real no-brainer this one. Watford's player of the year and one of the best central midfielders outside the top six, it would be a major boost to Watford's hopes for the new season if they keep hold of Doucoure. However, with the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham linked with the 25-year-old, this might prove easier said than done.


Will Hughes - STAY - Another impressive performer for Watford last season, Hughes is a player capable of making things happen with his dribbling and passing, making him the sort of player Gracia will look to hold onto in order to progress next year. Injuries have held Hughes back in the past but he is still one of the most gifted players Watford have.


Tom Cleverley - STAY - Looked good alongside Doucore and Nathaniel Chalobah and provides some essential experience to what is otherwise a fairly young crop of midfield players. Looks to have found his level at Watford and is performing well with some consistency.


Nathaniel Chalobah - STAY - Chalobah's injury just a month into the season was frustrating for not only Watford fans but for English fans in general, such is the extent of Chalobah's potential ability. Hopefully the former Chelsea man will be able to prove his worth in an injury-free season next year, potentially earning the long-awaited England debut that continues to elude him.


Etienne Capoue - STAY - Though Watford now have better options than Capoue in midfield, the Frenchman put in some good performances following the arrival of Gracia and has made a case for keeping him on for a fourth season. With Doucoure's Watford future under intense scrutiny, it might be worth the Hornets holding onto Capoue for now.


Didier Ndong - GO - After making a grand total of zero appearances following a loan move from Sunderland, it is evident that Watford do not need Ndong on top of their additional options in the centre of midfield.

5. Attacking Midfielders

Richarlison - STAY - The 21-year-old's form tailed off noticeably after a red-hot start to the season, but the early signs showed just how much promise the young winger has. The kind of player who can change games with his pace and trickery, Watford will be keen to keep hold of Richarlison.


Roberto Pereyra - STAY - Held back much less by injuries than during his first year at the club, Pereyra's form towards the back end of 2017/18 showed why Watford were so keen to bring him in from Juventus in 2016. One of the team's main creative outlets, Pereyra's versatility is yet another reason for the club to hold onto him.


Nordin Amrabat - GO - After spending last season on loan at Leganes, it is hard to see a way back into the Watford side for Amrabat. The club should look to move him on this summer and upgrade.


Dodi Lukebakio - STAY - The jury remains very much out on Lukebakio, who has barely appeared for Watford since his January move from Anderlecht. Still only 20 years old, the winger deserves a chance to prove himself before being cast off for good.


Gerard Deulofeu - STAY - A loan signing from Barcelona in January, Deulofeu injected some much-needed zip into Watford's attack during the second half of the season. Whether or not the club can bring him back next season remains to be seen but the Spaniard could definitely make a real difference if he can add consistency to his game.


Andre Carrillo - GO - Brought in by Marco Silva, Carrillo's form seemed to go out the door at the same time as the manager and the winger failed to make much of a noticeable contribution for much of the season. Considering the hefty fee it would likely take to secure his services on a permanent basis, Watford may wish to look elsewhere this summer and allow Carrillo to return to Benfica.

6. Forwards

Andre Gray - STAY - Watford fans may well have expected more from Gray following his club-record move from Burnley, but the striker still presents Watford's strongest goal threat at this point in time. Could benefit from improved creative output from Watford's midfield players, many of whom have not helped Gray with their lack of consistency.


Troy Deeney - STAY - Do not expect to see Mr. Watford go anywhere this summer. Despite a relatively poor 2017/18 season, Deeney is a leader on and off the pitch for the Hornets and will continue to captain the side next season as he has for years now.


Stefano Okaka - GO - Despite possessing obvious footballing ability, Okaka has not developed into a striker Watford can rely on and the club should really be looking for better options up front. Let down by poor decision making and constantly fading out of games early, there is no reason to suggest he is any better than Gray or Deeney.


Isaac Success - GO - After two years, it may be time for Watford to cut their losses on 22-year-old Success, who spent the second half of the season on loan at Malaga. Despite failing to live up to expectations in England, Success is still a young player and may command a reasonable transfer fee which could be re-invested in order to improve the squad.


Jerome Sinclair - GO - A familiar face on Javi Gracia's bench, 21-year-old Sinclair has still shown few signs of being good enough to make it in the Premier League. Could perhaps spend a year on loan before being given up on but time is quickly running out for the young striker.


Adalberto Penaranda - STAY - Penaranda is yet to make an appearance for the Hornets having spent time on loan at Udinese and Malaga, but the 20-year-old looks like a prospect and could find himself playing Premier League football in the near future. With loan deals for Deulofeu and Carrillo set to expire, the forward would serve as another option on the wing as well as up front.


Mauro Zarate - GO - Blighted by injury soon after signing for Watford, veteran forward Zarate seems unlikely to make a return to the first team anytime soon after spending last season on loan at Al Nasr in the United Arab Emirates.


Obbi Oulare - GO - Despite reportedly costing around £6m to sign from Club Brugge, Oulare has never been able to break into the Watford side and, after three years, should probably be moved on.