After an outstanding summer in which they have recruited some excellent players, you could have forgiven Watford manager Marco Silva for resting on his laurels as the new season approached.
However, just days after completing the signing of the talented forward Richarlison from Fluminese, the Hornets have also secured the services of former Burnley striker Andre Gray in an £18.5 million deal.
BBC Sport confirmed the deal earlier today, with the hit-man expected to make his debut in the opening day clash with Liverpool in front of a packed Vicarage Road. Gray’s signing certainly completes a busy and successful transfer window for the Hornets, while he could also be the catalyst for the next stage in the club’s progression as an established Premier League outfit.
Why Gray represents great value for Watford
Watford made a third bid for Gray earlier this week, with Burnley forced to accept an improved offer as the striker entered the final year of his contract having rejected a new deal with the Clarets. The Hornets will feel that they have secured great value for a 26-year old, who scored nine Premier League goals for Burnley last season.
Watford certainly struggled for goals last season, with only Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Hull City and Burnley themselves less potent in the Premier League last year. With club captain Troy Deeney also currently injured and The Sun suggesting that the striker’s future is far from assured at the club, the club have moved decisively to bolster their attacking options.
While new Brazilian attacker Richarlison may be something of an unknown quantity who will need time to adapt to the Premier League, Gray is an experienced top-flight striker who is approaching his physical peak.
His pace and willingness to run in behind defenders will also offer Watford something that they sorely lacked at times last year, while providing the newly formed and creative midfield pairing of Will Hughes and Tom Cleverley with a potent outlet in attack.
Exciting times for Watford, but how will Gray and Richarlison link-up in attack?
Gray is Watford’s seventh signing of the summer, and arguably the catalyst that can help to transform Watford from perennial strugglers to comfortable mid-table dwellers. Watford will certainly hope that the athletic and seasoned striker will hit the ground running against Liverpool, although how he links with Richarlison is open to conjecture.
While the Hornets are unlikely to play 4-4-2 under new manager Silva, the Portuguese was known to operate with a three-man defensive system last season at Hull and could well combine the two as dual strikers in attack.
He could also play Gray through the middle with the young Brazilian operating with greater freedom in behind or out wide, but regardless it seems certain that Gray will lead the Watford line ahead of the as yet unproven Richarlison.