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Almen Abdi confident Watford can secure automatic promotion
Almen Abdi has confirmed he does want to sign for Watford permanently and believes the club can secure automatic promotion to the Premier League this season.
Abdi joined the Hornets on loan in the summer and became an immediate fans favourite.
Watford are keen to sign the Swiss international permanently and the 26-year-old confirmed he also wants to stay long term.
But he stressed: “Yes [talks have started] but I can’t say anything about it at the moment. We have talked a little bit.
“Of course I like the football, I like being near London, I like the club and the guys here but I can’t say anything [about the discussions] because it is too early.”
Despite Watford and the midfielder’s parent club Udinese having the same owners, the likes of Abdi, Matej Vydra and Daniel Pudil will be unable to formally conclude any potential moves before the transfer window reopens in the summer.
The Hornets’ excellent form in recent months has seen the club mount a serious challenge for not only a play-off spot but an automatic place.
Speaking last week, Abdi said: “Yes we believe we can [finish in the top two]. It is a long way to go and a lot can happen in 16 or 17 games but we believe we can do it.”
One of the main reasons for Watford’s rise up the table is the form of fellow Udinese loanee Vydra.
Abdi played with Vydra for two years in Italy and believes the Golden Boys are benefiting from so many of their loan players already having a good relationship, on and off the field.
Abdi explained: “I have known Matej for two-and-a-half years now. I know how he runs and how he works. We know each other well and it is an advantage for us.”
“Of course [we are delighted he stayed at the club in January],” Abdi continued. “He now has 19 goals and in the last six or seven games he has scored in every match he has started. We are delighted he is still here and I hope we will see him beyond the summer.”
Ten players joined Watford on loan from Udinese in the summer, although two of those, Jean-Alain Fanchone and Steve Leo Beleck, left the club in January.
Abdi admitted it took the players time to adjust initially but believes they have now “grown up as a team”.
One of the players who has shown the most improvement of late is Abdi’s fellow Udinese loanee Cristian Battocchio.
The Argentine-born midfielder has excelled in recent weeks as part of an exciting trio, which also includes Abdi and Nathaniel Chalobah.
Abdi said: “You become confident from playing; this is normal. Cristian has played the last few games and he is getting better. I like playing with him because I have also known him for two-and-a-half years.
“I am enjoying my football at the moment and I think the whole team are.”
Abdi scored his seventh goal for the Golden Boys at the weekend and is on track to reach double figures, but the midfielder is keen to improve his tally even further The Professor, as Zola affectionately calls him, was born in Yugoslavia in 1986 but left the area at the age of three.
His family moved to Switzerland and he grew up in Zurich. Abdi was in the FC Zurich first team for seven years and helped the club win three league titles in four years between 2006 and 2009.
The midfielder, who played in the Champions League and Europa League during his time in Switzerland, had finished the 2009 title-winning season as top scorer but the club decided to relegate the player, and one of his team-mates, to the reserves due to their expected departures during the winter transfer window.
A deal with Udinese could not be agreed in time so Abdi joined French strugglers Le Mans in January 2010 on a short-term contract and when the club were relegated from Ligue 1 that summer, he joined the Italian club on a free transfer.
Abdi, who was in the latest Championship Team of the Week, was a squad player for much of his time at Udinese but he did feature regularly and played in European competitions once again for the Little Zebras.
His footballing career has contributed to the player learning four languages – English, French, German and Italian – and he enjoys moving to new countries and adapting to different cultures.
Abdi says he always wanted to play in the Premier League and now he has the realistic possibility of achieving his dream at Watford.
“I have watched the Premier League since I was a kid,” Abdi said. “For every football player, it is a dream to play there.
“We have 16 games to go and you never know. We have a chance because we have a lot of quality in this team and we just need to keep going and believing.”