Why Joe Bryan could be a smashing signing for Watford in January
According to the Daily Mail, Watford have been credited with an interest in Fulham left-back Joe Bryan as Nigel Pearson looks to shore up his leaky backline in a bid to help his team beat the drop in the Premier League.
Bryan, who has a contract at Fulham until 2022, has played in all but one of the Cottagers’ fixtures in the Championship so far, scoring once and laying on a further three assists in 25 league outings for Scott Parker’s promotion-hopefuls.
Valued at around £10 million by the West London outfit, the 26-year-old has been one of the key cogs in Fulham’s surge for promotion in the second-tier this term, but Watford have now set their sights on the former Bristol City star in a bid to aid their bid for survival in the top-flight.
The Bristol-born star, who made his move to Fulham from Bristol City in the summer of 2018, started 27 times in the Premier League for the Cottagers in the previous campaign as the club went straight back down to the Championship.
Despite Fulham going through an ignominious campaign in the top-flight, Bryan was one of the few players to come away with some genuine credit along with striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, amid the lacklustre performances of some of the other high-profile players in the squad.
Having previously clocked up 141 appearances in the Championship for the Robins, Bryan has further enhanced his reputation as a proven left-back in the English second-tier this term and his red-hot form has catapulted him on to the radar of Watford, who are understood to be in the market for some defensive recruits during the mid-season trading period in January.
Meanwhile, Watford have breathed some life back into their tottering campaign in the Premier League, with impressive victories against Aston Villa, Man United and Wolves in recent weeks and the appointment of Nigel Pearson, who masterminded Leicester City’s remarkable bid for survival during the 2014-15 season, has certainly had a big positive impact.
As a result of their recent resurgence, the Hornets are currently only a couple of points adrift of 17th-placed Aston Villa and a victory over relegation rivals Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday could see Watford climb out of the drop zone.
To that end, however, Pearson will surely know that there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure safety for the Hornets, with the race for promotion likely to go down to the wire during the crucial second half of the campaign.
Having conceded 34 goals in 21 games so far, Watford’s problems at the back have been well-documented and the Hornets certainly need to beef up their defensive unit before the January transfer deadline, with a new left-back apparently on Pearson’s radar.
That perfectly makes sense, given that Kiko Femenia, primarily a right-back by trade, has been relied upon in recent weeks to fill in on the left-hand side of the backline. The Spaniard hasn’t been outrightly poor in an unfamiliar role but it is a no-brainer that he is more suited to playing on the other side.
Adam Masina’s move to Vicarage Road from Bologna has turned into a big disappointment, with the Moroccan failing to cement his place in the eleven as a regular fixture. Jose Holebas, who was such a key player under Javi Gracia last season, has been in and out of the team due to injuries and has struggled to hit top gear when on the pitch.
To put things into perspective, Watford need a new left-back to sort out their conundrum at the back and Joe Bryan looks like an excellent option who could make an immediate impact at Vicarage Road, where the current situation necessitates some plug-and-play recruits.
Bryan proved with his impressive displays in the Premier League last season that he is more than capable of playing a big role in the top-flight, and at 26, the former Bristol City star could well be worth a significant outlay for the Hornets in the transfer market, considering that he still has a lot to offer.
As per whoscored, Bryan averages 2.9 tackles, 1.9 clearances, 1.2 interceptions, 1.1 key passes, 2.8 long balls and 0.7 crosses per game in the Championship this term, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded qualities at both ends of the pitch.
With Holebas already 34 and out of contract in the summer and Masina struggling to get to grips with the English game, the arrival of a proven player like Bryan would certainly hand a massive boost to Watford’s chances of beating the drop in the Premier League.
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All in all, Watford completing a deal for Joe Bryan in January would inject some much-needed quality to their ailing backline.