Well, Watford fans, enjoy Abdoulaye Doucoure while you can…
The towering French midfielder signed a new long-term contract at Vicarage Road last summer amid plenty of rumors he was going to leave the club as Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool were all linked with a big-money move for the 26-year-old.
His impressive displays in central midfield have continued this season and Doucoure’s superb box-to-box displays are a big reason why Watford currently sit in seventh place in the Premier League under Javi Gracia. The former Rennes man has scored three goals and added five assists in 21 Premier League starts this season, with all of his goals coming in his last eight appearances.
Speaking to French outlet Canal Plus after Watford’s win against Crystal Palace over the weekend, Doucoure didn’t beat about the bush when asked about his future.
“I think I am going to leave Watford. The club know my ambitions and want to help me get to the next level,” Doucoure said. “I’m flattered by the interest of PSG but for the moment there’s nothing concrete. I will focus on my performance for my club. I’ve not had contact with PSG and they’ve not contacted Watford. My goal is to play well for Watford and then maybe join a Champions League team.
“This winter we’ll study all possibilities on offer. The most important thing for me is to continue to progress and with my performances. Staying in England is a possibility and the Italian league is becoming more interesting. There are clubs who have returned to show interest in me again. The first criteria for me is that the club plays in the Champions League.”
Doucuore’s comments are a big blow for Watford, especially a time of the season where they look to kick on and push hard for Europa League qualification. But Gracia’s Hornets can cope without him.
If they do receive a monster offer of over $65 million, which is the lowest offer they should accept for Doucoure, they could reinvest that by addressing a few other areas where they need to strengthen. Most notably at center back and at center forward.
If Doucoure leaves they still have Etienne Capoue, Nathaniel Chalobah, Tom Cleverley, Will Hughes and Domingos Quina as central midfield options, while up top and at center back they look light. Troy Deeney can’t keep rolling back the years, while Andre Gray is on a serious lean spell and Stefano Okaka has left during the January transfer window. In defense Craig Cathcart and Adrian Marriapa are experienced and honest pros, but you have to think serious upgrades would be available if the Doucoure cash was used to sign a striker and a center back.
All in all, this news isn’t too bad for the Hornets as Doucoure can leave with minimum fuss in the summer and in the knowledge that he won’t leave too large of a hole in their starting lineup.
He’s a great player, of course, but Watford can easily cope without him. And unless they have a heck of a finish to the season and finish in the top four and make the UEFA Champions League, Doucoure is off.