Watford complete first signing of the Roy Hodgson era as Nigerian winger joins
Watford have made Nigeria international Samuel Kalu the first signing of the Roy Hodgson era.
Former Crystal Palace manager Hodgson arrived at Vicarage Road on Tuesday to replace Claudio Ranieri. He is tasked with steering the Hornets away from the relegation zone – they sit 18th as things stand, two points from safety.
Ranieri had been busy in the January transfer window, bringing in three players. Left-back Hassane Kamara, central defender Samir and defensive midfielder Edo Kayembe all joined under his supervision.
Watford have continued their recruitment drive by capturing 24-year-old winger Kalu from Ligue 1 outfit Bordeaux. The transfer fee has not been disclosed.
The wide man, who did not make Nigeria’s squad for the AFCON, has agreed a three-and-a-half-year deal with the Hornets. He will deputise for Ismaila Sarr amid the player’s recovery from a knee injury and participation with Senegal at the African tournament.
Kalu has made 11 league appearances for Bordeaux this season. His solitary goal came in September’s 3-3 draw with Montpellier.
He originally cost the French club £7.65million when joining from KAA Gent in Belgium.
Samuel Kalu completes career ‘dream’
On his switch to the Premier League, Kalu said: “When I heard about the opportunity I was feeling grateful.
“It’s one of my dreams to play in the Premier League, this is what I want. I will be here to give my best.
“I spoke to M’Baye Niang, he was my team-mate in Bordeaux, he told me a lot about the Premier League and he was here before, he told me it’s a great club. He said the Premier League is the best league in the world, so I should grab my chance.
“[Slovakia, Belgium and France] are all good leagues but I see the Premier League as more intense, powerful, I see it as the strongest league in the world.
“With my experience from the leagues I have played in, it’s quite similar with Ligue 1 and the Premier League. It’s amazing, every game is like a final, playing against the top clubs in the world.”
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Hodgson admits Watford challenge is ‘massive’
Meanwhile, Hodgson has been speaking about the task he faces to keep Watford in the top flight.
“It’s a massive challenge, but it’s a challenge I believe I’m ready to take on and one that I’m very excited about,” the former England boss said.
“I’m certainly looking forward to it, and if the players are as good as I think they can be, then I’m hopeful of helping the club to another season in the Premier League.
“I’m confident in the sense that I’ve been in situations that aren’t so different to this before, at Fulham, West Brom and Palace.
“The period of time I had to change things might have been a bit longer on each occasion – and at West Brom the league position wasn’t as bleak – but in terms of coming in, getting my ideas across and getting the team playing, it feels somewhat similar.
“It’s going to be a difficult job for [assistant] Ray [Lewington] and I, as I’m sure it would be for anybody, but I feel we’ve got the ability to be successful.
“I can certainly assure all the Watford fans that our desire to keep the club in the league will be every bit as great as theirs, and we’ll do everything we can to make that happen.”
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