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With Watford relegated, what’s next for Nigeria’s Dennis, Ekong, and Kalu?

With Watford relegated, what’s next for Nigeria’s Dennis, Ekong, and Kalu?

For most of the season, Watford found themselves fighting to maintain their Premier League status after they secured promotion from the Sky Bet Championship last season.

Three managers: Xisco Munoz, Claudio Ranieri, and current manager, Roy Hodgson, have taken charge of the dugout at Vicarage Road this season alone, underlining how desperate the club’s management was to avoid the drop; an eventuality that befell them.

The London side got relegated last weekend, following their 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the league. The defeat meant Watford would not finish better than 19th position in the 2021/2022 English league season.

The club has been beyond woeful this campaign. They can only boast of 23 points from 36 matches, and picking one point every game would have put them level with Everton in 16th place. They conceded the third-highest number of goals in the league this season.

Not even the brilliance of Emmanuel Dennis, one of the Nigerian quartets who played for the club this season, could help Watford stay up.

Dennis is the club’s top scorer in this campaign with 10 goals and six assists. The former Club Brugge star scored five goals in six games between November and December 2021, highlighting his potential and importance to the club. He ensured the humiliation of Manchester United in a 4-1 at home victory by contributing two assists and scoring a good goal to win his side’s man-of-the-match award.

He was nominated in November for the player of the month award.

The 24-year-old is arguably the club’s best player this season. It would be almost inconceivable if top clubs in the league ignore him and watch him follow Watford to the lower division, albeit, there have been reports that the Nigerian will not be part of Watford’s party to the lower division, with his club said to be ready to negotiate a £30million deal for him.

William Troost-Ekong has had a disastrous season at Watford, and reports have indicated that he could be sold to the Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States, or play in the Championship next season.

Troost Ekong

The Super Eagles assistant captain started in 15 of Watford’s first 16 league matches of the season and failed to help the club keep any clean sheet as a defender.

He was fingered for some of the horrendous defensive displays by the club this term. Overall, the former Bursaspor central-back has played 17 league matches for the English side and failed to help them keep a clean sheet, with the team conceding 30 goals in the process.

The 28-year-old was relegated to the bench by Hodgson after the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon and has only played in one match since January, which was the 12 minutes he got in last weekend’s clash.

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Another Eagles star, Samuel Kalu, is condemned to stay with the club in the Championship next season. Watford paid £2.5million to secure his services from the French club, Bordeaux, last January.

Samuel Kalu

Kalu would have to stay and establish a place in the team. Things have not been going to plan for the 24-year-old as it was in France, having made only two substitute appearances for the Hornets since his move.

Oghekaro Etebo, whose season long-loan at the club was bedeviled by injury, will return to his Championship club, Stoke City, at the end of the campaign.

The Nigerian picked up a terrible knee in September last year in a league game against Newcastle that summarised his season. 

The injury ruled him out of action for more than four months; spending about half of his loan on the sidelines.

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