A few eyebrows were raised when it was revealed Watford had signed Emmanuel Dennis.
In 2019, he scored twice against Real Madrid for Club Brugge in a 2-2 draw in the Santiago Bernabeu. A little over a year later, he was loaned out to Bundesliga side Koln. His time there was unproductive, with Dennis failing to score in any of the nine appearances he made in the German top-flight.
His £3.5million move to Watford came out of the blue and he was one of a number of forwards to join the newly-promoted side. Ashley Fletcher and Josh King signed for the Hornets with Cucho Hernandez also returning from a loan stint in Spain. They also managed to keep hold of Ismaila Sarr despite rumoured interest from bigger clubs.
The biggest unknown was arguably the 24-year-old. This was his first stint in England and his time in Germany was a bust. Yet as we head into April, he is Watford’s leading goalscorer.
The Nigeria international has nine goals and five assists having played a variety of roles this term for three different managers.
Despite such change, his performances have been consistent. He is a threat and a reliable one at that.
His expected goals per 90 average for the season is 0.27 and he isn’t a high volume shooter, averaging just 2.17 shots. That sort of output is scalable. He’s at a good age and he knows the rigours of the English game now, so he is low-key an interesting possibility.
However, the sample size isn’t the largest. How many times have we seen a player have a memorable season before falling into obscurity. Dennis could be another one-season wonder. I doubt he is, but you just don’t know.
Given he’s been one of the shining lights for a disappointing Watford side, his stock will be relatively high this summer. The worst thing you can do is buy at the highest point, isn’t it? Even though Watford paid just £3.5million for him, they’re going to want £30million for a player they have under contract until 2026. You also have to wonder whether they would even let him go when Sarr might already be on the move.
The Reds have raided relegated clubs for players in the past and they probably aren’t against the idea now, but it has to work for them. It is one of the reasons I can’t see Dennis being of interest even though his form has been impressive this season. If they haven’t already, links will soon emerge as it is an easy one to make. However, he seems like the sort of signing Everton would make and then you look back in a few years and wonder why they spent so much money on him.
It is just sample size that matters at this level. If you sign a player after one good season, you are kind of asking for trouble.