Watford move a wrong choice and proof Maduka Okoye doesn’t rate himself
On Monday, November 8th, 2021, Watford announced the signing of Maduka Okoye on a five-and-a-half-year deal from Eredivisie club Sparta Rotterdam. “Watford FC is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement to sign highly rated young goalkeeper Maduka Okoye on a five and the half-year deal that will begin on January 1, 2022” a statement from the club’s website read.
The 6 ft 6 tall goalkeeper will spend the other half of the 2021/22 season on loan with his current club Sparta Rotterdam and will only join Watford fully at its completion ahead of the 2022/23 season. Watford, have no doubt swooped in and made an absolute steal on a keeper that is certainly on the radar of big clubs around Europe after his spectacular performances for club and country over the past year. This transfer is quite the steal for Watford, that they even completed it under the noses of the big clubs is enough reason to applaud them. Kudos to Watford, but only less can be said from Okoye’s perspective.
He’s after all a player with a very bright future. The 22-year-old Nigerian is a keeper adept at playing the ball with his feet thanks to his early years with Borrusia Mondlegabach and Bayer Leverkusen in Germany; two clubs renowned for producing some of the world’s best goalkeepers. He’s also an excellent shot-stopper with very good reflexes for a keeper of his age. It is all these attributes and characteristics that makes one wonder if Watford FC was the best move he could make for the next stage of his fledgling career.
We are not even halfway through the 2021/22 season yet and he already accepted a transfer to another club. Not that his transfer is coming out of the blue, as it was widely expected ever since the end of last season but it’s quite surprising that despite the obvious interests circling around him from some of the top clubs around Europe, he has taken the plunge and signed with a newly-promoted side from the EPL. Any eventual move say at the end of the season would have made more sense and given him the chance to access all his options more carefully than this rushed decision.
The club he just signed for too are just returning to the top flight after one year in the championship and as it has been seen, returning clubs can be unpredictable at times. Watford have already changed coaches this season too, suggesting that their past record of chopping and changing managers is still a normality. They’ve gone through 16 managerial changes in the past 11 years pointing at a club with a lack of clear idea or vision of how the club should be run. This kind of environment is clearly not the best place for a young player to continue his development even with the latest appointment of Claudio Ranieri, an EPL winner with Leicester City.
Lastly, an EPL move- although not a bad one, might be too early for him. A move to Ajax or PSV, two clubs rumoured to have a concrete interest in him would surely have served him better. He would have had the opportunity to continue playing in a league that he is, by no means, strange to him, and the chance to guard the posts for either of the two top teams in the Eredivisie is as big as it gets. Ajax and PSV are also regulars in the champions league meaning UCL outings would have also been part of the duty call for Okoye.
Of course, these points raised are only from outside the player’s frame of mind and it is only him that can know the real reason why he has signed a deal with Watford when the football season is just approaching its midway point. Without being in Maduka Okoye’s head, however, this move seriously looks like the player himself doubts his own ability. He certainly can do better than Watford.