Watford manager Marco Silva has undoubtedly done some extremely smart pieces of business during the summer transfer window, but one person who won’t have benefitted is Stefano Okaka.
The 28-year-old started the opening day clash against Liverpool – and scored – but the arrival of Andre Gray from Burnley has pushed Okaka down the pecking order and out of the starting eleven.
Reports from The Sun believe that the Italian has perked the interest of both Marseille and Sevilla with growing potential for a move away before the deadline on Thursday.
What can Okaka offer at Vicarage Road?
Since Stefano Okaka joined the Hornets on a five-year deal from Belgian outfit Anderlecht last summer it hasn’t exactly been easy going for him, scoring four times in 18 appearances in 2016-17.
For a lot of the season he was competing with the likes of Troy Deeney for a starting role but, given the nod by new boss Marco Silva for the visit of Liverpool a fortnight ago, the Italian was arguably the home side’s star man in a display full of the pace and power that earnt him the move to England.
On that occasion alone he attempted three take-ons, showing that he has the confidence in his ability to square up to defenders – brought about by his early goal – and he can build on this start.
Okaka’s frustrations at being dropped can be slightly understood after a promising start to the campaign, but Silva spent a club record £18.5 million on Andre Gray for a reason and he needs to understand that.
In a similar fashion, the Hornets splashed out £11 million for young Brazilian Richarlison and, after impressing in a role just behind Gray, Silva won’t be wanting to break a budding partnership up yet.
What has Silva said on Okaka’s situation?
Speaking after his omission from the side for the trip to Bournemouth, Silva said:
“He does what he needs to do and it’s not easy, I agree, but it’s a matter of decisions.
“I take what the best solution is for the team each match every time. Not what is the best solution for player A, B, C or D, but what is best for the team. It’s not a problem for me. If I think it’s the best solution for the team I will take it. If others aren’t happy, it’s football.”
By the sounds of things, Okaka isn’t likely to be getting any sympathy from the Watford boss anytime soon over his lack of first-team action, and a move away could become a real possibility.
How likely is a move away to Europe?
The likelihood of Okaka remaining and fighting for a spot in this Watford team remains firmly in the balance but, if he has any sense, Silva should be trying his hardest to keep him as a reliable back-up.
Should Gray get injured at all then they’ll need to call upon the 28-year-old and, if Watford are wanting to continue their fine start to the campaign, Okaka could still play a highly valuable role.
Or alternatively, having somebody like Okaka to come on late in games when Watford are looking for or needing a goal would be priceless, with his strength, raw pace and desire able to stretch tired defences.
The only real situation that would see the forward leave before the end of the transfer window is if the promise of first-team action is offered at a top, European club – if not, expect him to remain at Vicarage Road.