With speculation that Watford ’s player of the season Abdoulaye Doucoure could be on his way out this summer, his central midfield role will be tough shoes to fill.
With the likes of Nathaniel Chalobah, Will Hughes, Etienne Capoue, and Tom Cleverley all still at the club, some may say they need to strengthen elsewhere, but the Hornets are bound to invest in a new midfield man.
After an incredible season at Vicarage Road, it is no surprise that the world’s biggest clubs have shown interest in the 25-year-old Frenchman.
Here is a look at seven players that could replace Abdoulaye Doucoure this summer at Watford:
1. Tom Cairney
Tom Cairney has captained a strong Fulham side this season to a third place finish, agonisingly close to automatic promotion to England’s top flight, finishing just two points short of Cardiff City.
The 27-year-old midfielder was named in the Championship Team of the Season for his impressive campaign at Craven Cottage, and is bound to be a Premier League player next season, regardless of the outcome of the play-offs.
Cairney provides a commanding voice in the middle of the park and was integral in Fulham’s unbeaten run in the latter stages of this season. However, Watford may be cautious to make a move for the Fulham man due the knee injury he suffered from earlier in the season.
2. Callum McGregor
Callum McGregor has starred for an impressive Celtic side this season, scoring 11 goals in 52 games for the Bhoys in all competitions, winning the Scottish Premier League and Scottish League Cup along the way.
The 24-year-old is a versatile central midfielder capable of making something out of nothing, and has been highly rated for a number of years in Scotland.
The Scottish international has played south of the Scottish border in the past, with a season long loan with League One side Notts County during the 2013/14 season, scoring 12 goals.
3. Jakub Jankto
The Hornets have been linked with Czech Republic international Jakub Jankto previously, and he would seemingly be an ideal replacement for the presumably outgoing Abdoulaye Doucoure.
The 22-year-old currently plays for Serie A side Udinese, and has made 38 appearances so far this season, scoring six goals in the process.
Watford will fancy their chances signing Jankto as the Pozzo family own both the Hornets and Udinese, and haven’t been shy bringing players over from Udine in the past.
4. Joe Allen
Despite being relegated with Stoke City this season, Joe Allen has impressed during his two year spell at the Potters, after signing from Liverpool in 2016.
The central midfielder is thought to be available this summer, but for a fee in the region of £25m. If Watford were to go after the 28-year-old, they would face stiff competition as a number of other top flight sides are thought to be interested in securing the Welshman’s signature.
Allen has made 42 appearances for Wales and was an integral part of the Welsh side that made the Euro 2016 semi finals.
5. Jefferson Lerma
Jefferson Lerma made his 26th appearance for Levante this season as a substitute in his sides 5-4 victory over Barcelona earlier this week.
The 23-year-old originally joined the Spanish team on loan in 2015, before signing permanently the following season, and has gone on to make 73 appearances for the club.
Lerma has made four appearances for his native Colombia since making his debut in 2017, including an impressive 3-2 victory over France in March this year. He is also expected to be a part of his Colombia’s World Cup squad in Russia this summer.
6. Denis Zakaria
Denis Zakaria plays his football in the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach, finishing this season in a comfortable ninth place, playing a total of 33 times in all competitions this campaign.
The 21-year-old started his career in his native country of Switzerland playing for Servette FC, before a two year spell at Young Boys between 2015 and 2017.
Zakaria made his debut for Switzerland in a friendly against Belgium in May 2016 and was included in the 2016 European Championship squad. He has gone on to make nine senior appearances.
7. Muhamed Besic
Muhamed Besic is currently on loan fat Championship side Middlesbrough and has led his side to a fifth place finish.
The 25-year-old is a defensive, no nonsense midfielder has what it takes to become an all-round solid middle man in England’s top flight. Breaking up play and a technically strong passer of the ball is Besic’s key assets.
Besic made his full international debut for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2010, becoming the youngest ever player to represent the country. He has gone on to make 30 appearances for his country, including during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.