It has taken them three months but the 2021 African Cup of Nations champion has been moved on from the club. Ismaila Sarr will join Emmanuel Dennis as the latest to leave Vicarage Road as the Hornets seek to rebuild their squad from scratch by cashing in on their most valuable players.
Aston Villa will have to move quickly, however, as Sarr still has a number of suitors who are in discussions with his entourage over a transfer. Watford have also granted him a leave of absence to sort out his future by omitting him from their squad for the weekend’s game.
Watford’s manager claimed that the absence was fitness-related, however. He said to the press ahead of their EFL Championship game against Preston North End on Saturday: “The situation is pretty clear. We’ve not had a bid from anyone. So that’s where it is in terms of any sort of transfer speculation.
“Where he’s at in terms of fitness is training part of the session yesterday, which is good. So we’ll keep monitoring and assessing him all the way up until Saturday’s game.”
The agreement for Sarr between Villa and Watford is reported to include add-ons that could take the final fee to £30 million.
Newcastle United are also inquiring about João Pedro, who joined the Hornets in January 2020 for an undisclosed fee. The Magpies have had two bids rejected per reports, but are preparing a new £30 million offer for Pedro to Watford.
If the deals for both Sarr and Pedro pulls through, Watford will have lost every player from their attack line from the last Premier League season. Joshua King, Andre Gray, Cucho Hernandez and Emmanuel Dennis have all racked in around £25 million in fees which has already been reinvested.
Their replacements have helped them to start strongly in the Championship as well, as they have racked up two wins and three draws from five games so far in the Championship.
Aston Villa’s slow start
It is still early days but Villa have endured a difficult start to the 2022/23 Premier League. One solitary win against Everton from their three opening wins leaves them in 13th position ahead of a tough run of fixtures.
In their next five games, Villa will take on West Ham, Arsenal, Manchester City, Leeds and Southampton and could find themselves in a much lower position if they don’t get their acts together.
The arrival of Sarr is expected to offer Steven Gerrard an extra bite in attack as he tries to shake up his squad who are currently struggling to score goals, which is quite unlike them.