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.
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?
“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.
Liverpool round up: Jurgen Klopp to step up Shaqiri interest, Reds priced out of Alisson deal
The latest news and gossip surrounding Liverpool
Shaqiri move on hold
Liverpool will step up their pursuit of Stoke City maestro Xherdan Shaqiri when he returns from the World Cup with Switzerland, after receiving early encouragement in sorting a deal, according to reports from the Mirror.
Shaqiri is said to be keen on a move to Merseyside, and a deal is more than likely to materialise, with Liverpool unlikely to find discrepancies over the reported fee of £12 million for the recently relegated star.
The 26-year-old is not considered as an alternative to Nabil Fekir, after a deal for the Lyon forward collapsed last week (BBC Sport) and the club are considering revisiting negotiations once the player returns from international duties.
Allison off the table
Liverpool are unlikely to make an approach for Roma goalkeeper Alisson, having been put off by Brazilian international’s reported £80 million valuation, according to Sky Sports.
The Reds have been linked with Alisson consistently throughout the January window, and it was thought they would go big for his services this summer. However, it appears Roma are in no need to sell and will require big money to part ways with the 25-year-old.
Jurgen Klopp is said to be considering moving for Chelsea shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois – as he enters the final year of his deal – but the Blues would likely demand a big fee also, as Liverpool having backed themselves with their goalkeeper situation, following Lloris Karius’ nightmare final.
Origi eyes return
Divock Origi has suggested a return to Anfield is best for his development and is eyeing a place in the first-team squad after a successful pre-season, according to the Liverpool Echo.
The 23-year-old had been loaned to Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg, but has suffered a relatively meagre campaign, netting just seven goals in 36 appearances, as the team flirted with relegation from the German top-tier.
He will now return to Melwood next month, but whether Klopp has plans for him or not remains to be seen.
Newcastle should forget Rondon and give Mitrovic another shot
Rafa Benitez is looking to secure a striker this summer, but should Newcastle put more faith in returning loanee?
Newcastle United are reportedly in the market for new forwards this summer, with Rafa Benitez identifying the Magpies’ attacking output as a key weakness last term, despite their impressive 10th place finish.
The Spaniard is allegedly keen on Venezuela international Salomon Rondon and could offer him a route back into the Premier League, from the recently relegated West Brom, according to the Northern Echo.
However, the 28-year-old may not be the best option to spearhead the side at St James’ Park.
Rondon has failed to bag more than 10 goals in a domestic season since arriving from Zenit St Petersburg, while his 28 strikes in 120 games makes for pretty poor reading. It goes without saying stats are not everything, but Newcastle will need a reliable scorer to ensure safety, and perhaps he is not worth the risk.
Strangely, Benitez seems reluctant to recall former fan favourite Aleksandar Mitrovic despite his recent resurgence, and is pursuing other targets that employ a similar game to the Serbian.
On loan in the Championship last term Mitrovic regained his confidence and eye for goal, and he was pivotal in Fulham’s push for promotion, netting an impressive 12 goals in 11 games for the Cottagers in a period he described as “the best four months of my career”.
The former Anderlecht man seems to have curbed his disciplinary issues and simplified his game up top, with his link-up play representing some of the finest in world football last term. And the time could be perfect for his return to Tyneside.
It is evident from rumours surrounding Rondon and Sporting Lisbon talisman Bas Dost (the Sun), that Benitez is actively seeking a physical linchpin to orchestrate play in the final third and Mitrovic could be his best option.
Newcastle are not famed for their spending in transfer markets and they have a ready-made solution returning to the club imminently. Benitez should reevaluate his current pursuits and give Mitrovic one last chance. On last season’s evidence, the results could be brilliant.
Cenk Tosun could become an elite striker under Marco Silva next term
Everton’s star talisman could benefit massively from Marco Silva’s regime at Goodison Park.
Everton‘s star striker Cenk Tosun recently vowed to reach new levels and is convinced he can be even better next season, after impressing in his debut campaign in a shackled Toffees side, in quotes via the official club website.
And the Turkish international will be thrilled by the appointment of Marco Silva, as he will likely be spearheading a far more progressive and attacking team next term.
The highly-rated forward netted an impressive five goals in only 12 starts for Sam Allardyce’s side, after joining from Turkish giants Besiktas in the winter window and helping Everton to reach a comfortable eighth-place finish in the process.
Known for his clinical edge in front of goal, the Turk did not disappoint, boasting an impressive 42 per cent accuracy rating for shots-on-target, bettering the likes of Tottenham‘s Harry Kane on 41 per cent.
However, his output was limited by Allardyce’s pragmatic style, with the striker often feeding on scraps in attacking areas, and he undoubtedly has higher levels to hit if Silva can accommodate the 27-year-old properly and surround him with like-minded attacking players.
The recent names circulating in the Everton rumour mill certainly suggest Tosun’s supply line will be richer after the summer, with the likes of Sporting Lisbon’s Gelson Martins and Bas Dost being touted as potential arrivals (A Bola).
The new Everton manager is sure to see Tosun as a vital member of his squad going forward, as the club aim to see results for their £27 million investment. While owner Farhad Moshiri’s ambitions of European football at Goodison Park dovetail with the Turkish international’s Champions League pedigree.
Considering the numbers Tosun managed under Allardyce, there is no telling how many goals he could bag under the tutelage of Silva in an attack-minded outfit. And many could be surprised at his impact next season.
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