Watford V Liverpool at Vicarage Road Stadium : Match Preview

11 August 2017 07:34
Marco Silva plays down Watford signing four English players this summer

Marco Silva has denied Watford are specifically targeting English players despite a significant change in the profile of their squad.

The club-record signing of the B#18.5million Andre Gray from Burnley on Wednesday takes the Hornets' number of new English players this summer to four.

Before Gray, Will Hughes, Nathaniel Chalobah and Tom Cleverley joined the club permanently, and fellow new signing and Austrian goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann counts as home-grown under Premier League rules following his spell at Stoke.

Press Association Sport also understands that both Everton winger Aaron Lennon and Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs remain transfer targets, meaning that by the conclusion of the transfer window English players could account for five or more of their starting XI.

In the modern-day, cosmopolitan Premier League that would be increasingly uncommon. It would also represent a shift from Silva's impressive recruitment at Hull, regardless of his demand his squad speaks English, and from that of the Pozzo family during their time as Watford's owners.

But Silva remains adamant that nationality is only a bonus.

His team on Saturday host Liverpool in his first competitive game as manager, and he said: "When we look for a player, the first thing we look at is not his nationality, it's not because he's English or not English.

"We look at what we need in our roster, the positions we need, and after the quality of the player. Of course if you have the capacity to sign new English or British players, why wouldn't you? These players don't need a lot of time to adapt.

"But the first point I look at is not whether he's British. The first is the capacity of the player, the value of the player, the quality of the player.

"Some of the young boys come with big motivation, which is important for our club."

Gray is expected to make his Watford debut against Liverpool, with doubts persisting around Troy Deeney's fitness following recent surgery to his groin.

Craig Cathcart (knee) and Christian Kabasele (hamstring) are also absent while Chalobah and fellow new signing Richarlison are among those expected to start.

"The market at this moment is really crazy (regardless of nationality)," added Silva. "The values of the players, it's easy to find the right solutions but not easy to achieve these solutions."

Liverpool go into the game on the back of reports that Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho has submitted a transfer request that has been rejected by the club.

Coutinho has been targeted by Barcelona, whose bid of around B#90million was rebuffed by Liverpool on Wednesday.

It is understood the 25-year-old - who would have missed the clash with the Hornets because of a back problem - declared his desire to leave the Merseyside club on Friday by submitting a transfer request via email. The request was turned down.

That news emerged only hours after Liverpool's owners had issued a statement stressing their stance that Coutinho would not be sold during the current transfer window.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has gone on record a number of times emphasising the player is not for sale.

And the club's owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) backed that up on Friday morning by saying in a statement: "The club's definitive stance is that no offers for Philippe will be considered and he will remain a member of Liverpool Football Club when the summer (transfer) window closes."

That message appeared on Liverpool's official website just prior to Klopp speaking at a press conference, during which he said of FSG's statement: "I think if somebody, in this case FSG, is saying something like this, that is the statement.

"I have said what the club's decision is about this and now you can read it - that is maybe the only difference. And that is the way it will go."

Soon after the press conference, reports emerged that Coutinho had handed in a transfer request. Liverpool initially insisted that was not the case, but it is understood the player did send an email.

Also on Friday, Sky Sports News received a statement said to be from a member of Coutinho's family.

The statement said: "Philippe has tried very hard to find an amicable solution to this situation but to no avail.

"He has tremendous love for the club and its fans but, like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez have pointed out in the past, Liverpool does not let its players leave on amicable terms."

In the press conference, Klopp was asked about trying to keep Coutinho happy.

The German said: "I can't keep players happy. That's how life is.

"It's not about this at the moment. Phil is not available for us and that for me is the bigger issue. All the rest is just between me and all the boys, not just Phil."

Klopp also said he had "nothing to say about this" when asked what Coutinho had said to him regarding the Barcelona interest.

Source: PAR