Watford should join Sunderland and Leeds United in race for 9-goal EFL striker: View | OneFootball

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Football League World

·28 November 2023

Watford should join Sunderland and Leeds United in race for 9-goal EFL striker: View

Article image:Watford should join Sunderland and Leeds United in race for 9-goal EFL striker: View
  • Valerien Ismael is getting the time and backing he needs as the new Watford manager.
  • Watford lacks a complete center-forward who can contribute in multiple areas of the pitch.
  • Ali Al-Hamadi, currently playing for AFC Wimbledon, would be a good investment for Watford as he has the potential to develop into a top talent.

Unlike many of the Watford managers that have preceded him, it looks as though Valerien Ismael is going to get the time to try and see through his vision at Vicarage Road.

The Frenchman was the choice of owner Gino Pozzo and the rest of the Hornets board back in May to replace Chris Wilder, and it would certainly be a much-changed team with the sales of Ismaila Sarr and Joao Pedro raking in a lot of money, but it also meant a lot of creativity was lost.

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Watford of course added players to their squad over the summer to replace the ones they lost or got rid of, but Ismael has been backed more than any of the ones that came before him, especially as he has been given more say over everything with technical director Ben Manga surprisingly departing recently.

The Hertfordshire outfit do have class in multiple areas of the pitch, but perhaps what they don't have is a centre-forward who can do a bit of everything.

Mileta Rajovic, who was signed in the summer from Swedish outfit Kalmar, has scored six times already for his new club, but he's not the complete forward that is perhaps needed in Ismael's system - he can get on the end of balls in the six-yard box but his all-round game is pretty limited.

That is why Pozzo should be backing Ismael in the transfer market to bring in a forward who despite playing in League Two currently, could really develop into a top talent, and that is AFC Wimbledon's Ali Al-Hamadi.

Why is Ali Al-Hamadi the right fit for Watford?

At the age of 21, Al-Hamadi is still at the infancy of his career, and he's had some knock-backs already in his time in football - it looks as though right now he's starting to show his potential.

Al-Hamadi played for Tranmere Rovers as a teenager after being raised in Liverpool, but he signed his first professional deal instead with Swansea City in 2020, two years after swapping Prenton Park for South Wales as a scholar.

It didn't work out for the Iraq-born forward at Swansea though, and after trialling with Derby County, Al-Hamadi landed at Wycombe in late 2021, but after 13 matches and just one goal for the Chairboys, he moved to AFC Wimbledon in January 2023, dropping to League Two in the process.

That is where Al-Hamadi - who has amassed 11 caps for Iraq already and scored three times - has started to show his improving self, scoring 10 times in just 19 appearances in his first half-season at Plough Lane, and despite a slow start to the current campaign, he has netted nine goals in all competitions from 20 outings.

The stats speak for themselves - Al-Hamadi takes shots, can play a pass and pick his team-mates out, which his five assists also prove, and he's also a strong dribbler with 1.5 completed per match.

Al-Hamadi has the pace, strength and trickery to be classed as a complete striker, but he's not complete in the sense that he's finished developing - he's nowhere near his peak and he is already deserving of a step up the leagues after less than a year at his current side.

Rajovic, Rhys Healey and Vakoun Bayo all have a couple of things that they are good at but are perhaps lacking in other areas - Al-Hamadi can seemingly do it all though and would be a good investment.

What competition would Watford have for Ali Al-Hamadi's signature?

Unsurprisingly due to his recent form, Al-Hamadi is being courted by some Championship big-hitters.

The South London Press revealed in early November that Leeds United were one club that had been actively scouting him recently, and Sunderland have also been watching the young attacker in action.

Hull, Cardiff, Bristol City, and Stoke have also been touted as interested by the Sunday Mirror's Darren Witcoop, who also claimed that Wimbledon will want over £1 million for his services - that is fair going as well considering how much he's improving.

And there's even a realistic claim to be had that they deserve double that minimal seven-figure fee, but of course it will depend on how much the Dons need the money - there could even be an auction for his services come January.

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