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Mini-biographies of Watford's seven new signings
12:59pm Wednesday 1st August 2012 in Sport
Watford this week confirmed the signing of seven new players; with Manuel Almunia and Fitz Hall joining on free transfers and another five on season-long loans. Below are mini-biographies for all seven players.
It is easy to remember his last couple of seasons at Arsenal when you think of Manuel Almunia but it was only three years ago that the goalkeeper was being linked with a possible England call-up under residency rules.
His performances in recent years and the rise of Wojciech Szczesny meant Almunia made just 18 appearances in the last two seasons, four of which were on loan at West Ham United last year.
Almunia started his career at Osasuna B and after brief spells at Cartagonova and Sabadell, joined Celta Vigo in 2001, although he spent most of his time out on loan at Eibar, Recreativo Huelva and Albacete.
The goalkeeper impressed for Albacete in La Liga but it was still a surprise to most when Arsene Wenger signed the Spanaird for an undisclosed fee in 2004.
He had to bide his time behind Jens Lehmann and in his first three seasons in England made just 16, 13 and 14 appearances respectively.
Almunia secured his place as number one for the next three seasons though and impressed for much of that time before a dip in form.
The 35-year-old joined West Ham United on a one-month emergency loan last year due to injury to Robert Green and conceded three goals in four outings, keeping two clean sheets. But they were his only competitive appearances last season.
Left back Daniel Pudil has been the most impressive loanee during pre-season and it is hardly surprising when you consider he has won the Czech and Belgian league titles in the past and was extremely unfortunate to miss out of the Czech Republic Euro 2012 squad.
Pudil had been named in the initial squad for this summer's tournament but Vladimir Darida was also included as cover due to injury concerns over Tomas Rosicky and Darida's performances during the friendlies pursuaded coach Michal Bileck to include the young midfielder at the expense of Pudil.
The 26-year-old, who has made 23 appearances for his country, started his career at Chmel Blsany before joining FC Slovan Liberec in 2004; helping the club to the title in 2006.
Pudil spent three years at the Czech club but in the final season was sent on loan to SK Slavia Prague and his performances attracted the attention of Belgian side Racing Genk.
He won another league title in 2011 and Granada decided to sign the left back, who can also play in midfield, in January this year.
Pudil was immediately loaned out Serie A strugglers Cesena but he was unable to stop the Italian side from being relegated.
Fitz Hall is an experienced centre back who has worked his way from non-league football to play in the Premier League.
The 6ft 4 defender was released by West Ham United as a teenager and after a brief spell at Barnet, joined non-league side Chesham United, where he played with DJ Campbell.
Hall's boss at Chesham was Bob Dowie and Hall's performances pursuaded his manager's brother, Iain Dowie, to sign the centre back for Oldham Athletic.
A move to Premier League Southampton followed in 2003 and he then earned a £1.5m transfer to Crystal Palace.
After two years at Selhurst Park, Hall was signed by Wigan Athletic for £3m. He then moved to QPR in 2008, where he spent four years, making 92 appearances and achieving promotion to the Premier League in 2011.
Hall, who had a brief loan at Newcastle United in 2010, has struggled with injuries in the last couple of years. He made 19 appearances for Rangers last season but he was not offered a new deal and was released on July 1.
Watford have signed an accomplished midfielder in Almen Abdi; he is a player who has won three league titles, played in the Champions League and Europa League and also had a few outings for his national side Switzerland.
Abdi started his career at FC Zurich and helped the club win three league titles in four years between 2006 and 2009.
The midfielder 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 was a squad player for most of his time at Udinese but he did feature regularly and played in European competitions again for the Little Zebras.
He may only be 24 but Ikechi Anya has already put in the miles as a professional footballer and has been from England to Spain, and back again, since he made his debut as a 16-year-old in 2004.
Glasgow-born Anya started his football career as a promising winger and became Wycombe Wanderers' youngest ever player when he made his debut in 2004.
The forward, who can play out wide or through the middle, secured a two-year contract and also impressed off the field, winning the League Two Apprentice of the Year Award.
However, he was released by Wycombe in 2007 and then spent some time at non league Oxford City before joining the Southern League Premier division side Halesowen Town in 2008.
Anya was considering giving up his dream of professional football before being he won a place at the Glenn Hoddle Academy after a successful trial, following a recommendation from former Wycombe boss John Gorman.
He signed a two-year contract with the development scheme and during that time had a spell at Northampton Town, where he scored three goals in 14 appearances.
In 2009, he agreed a move to Sevilla, where he played for the reserve side, but left before his two-year deal was up and joined Celta Vigo.
He spent most of the season in their B side, but did feature for the the first team, and joined Granada last summer on a three-year contract.
Anya spent the 2011/12 season on loan at Cadiz, who have a strong relationship with Granada.
Steve Leo Beleck
Striker Steve Leo Beleck will be hoping he can follow in the footsteps of his father Thomas Libiih, who made Cameroon's World Cup squad for the 1990 and 1994 tournaments.
Leo Beleck started his career at Greek side Panthrakikos, signing his first professional contract in July 2009.
The 19-year-old spent the first half of the season in the Under-21s, before being called into the first team for their fight against relegation.
Beleck went on to make 13 league appearances and scored five goals, despite the team being relegated.
Thanks to his impressive performances for Panthrakikos, Leo Beleck signed for Italian club Udinese in July 2010 - he had been linked with a move to Tottenham.
Leo Beleck is yet to make his debut for Udinese and spent last season at AEK Athens. After a difficult start, he made 21 appearances and scored six times, including six appearances in the Europa League.
Matej Vydra remains an unknown quantity to not just Watford supporters but also those of parent club Udinese because the youngster has rarely featured for the Italian club since signing two years ago.
Vydra burst on to the Czech football scene in January 2010 when he signed for Banik Ostrava from Jihlava at the age of 17.
He was only at the club six months but his performances resulted in the forward earning the Czech Revelation of the Year Award and a multi-million pound move to Udinese.
Vydra only made a handful of appearances during his first year Italy and then received a cruciate knee ligament injury early into his loan at Club Brugge last season.
The 20-year-old has spent much of pre-season training on his own as he tries to become match fit and has yet to feature in any of Watford's pre-season friendlies.
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