Watford remain hopeful they can sign a holding midfielder before the end of the January transfer window next week.
The defensive midfield role has been a problem position for much of this season following the surprise departure of Jonathan Hogg and the Hornets have been looking for a replacement throughout the campaign, with loanees temporarily filling the void.
Watford are still in dialogue with Fulham’s Derek Boateng, who looked set to join the club on loan last week before the move stalled, and they have not given up hope of bringing in Samba Diakite from Queens Park Rangers, despite R’s boss Harry Redknapp claiming the player would not be leaving the club.
Fulham boss René Meulensteen today confirmed Watford were still in “ongoing discussions” with 30-year-old Boateng, as are French club Evian.
The combative midfielder is keen to secure first-team football to earn a place in Ghana’s World Cup squad this summer.
As for Diakite, who turns 25 tomorrow, he had been frozen out by Redknapp for several months and has only appeared once for the R’s this season – and that came in the Capital One Cup in August when he was substituted in the 56th minute.
However, a number of injuries saw Diakite return to the QPR squad on Saturday as an unused substitute.
Before the match, Redknapp told West London Sport: “No, he’s not [joining Watford]. He’s in the squad for tomorrow.
“He played for the reserves in midweek and played very well. He’s a player that might be very much back in the picture again now.
“Hopefully we can get him going and get the best out of him, and if we can he’s a very good player.”
However, a source told us that Watford remained hopeful of signing Diakite despite Redknapp’s claims.
And Hornets head coach Beppe Sannino, who is usually reluctant to discuss transfers, today admitted: “I am lacking in the midfield. So this could be an area that we would like to boost.”
When asked if he hoped to sign a midfielder before the January transfer window closed next Friday, he replied: “I would like a lot of things but I can only ask for a few. My philosophy as a coach is to try to do the best with the players that are currently at the club.”
It was reported the Hornets were one of three Championship clubs who contacted Chelsea about loaning highly-rated Nathan Ake, who can play in defensive midfield and defence.
But, whilst we understand Watford did try to sign Ake under Gianfranco Zola, a source has told us the Hornets are not one of the clubs who have contacted Chelsea about loaning the Dutchman during this transfer window.
We understand Watford had also been keen to land a pacey striker this month but, as yet, have had no joy.
They were linked with Siena’s Niccolo Giannetti by Italian media but we understand no approach had been made when we went to print this evening.
One striker who the Golden Boys are trying to sign is Lens’ talented teenager David Faupala.
A source yesterday confirmed the Hornets are interested in securing a deal for the 16-year-old, who reportedly walked out of training on Monday.
Faupala has a strong reputation in France after impressing for the Under-17 and Under-16 national teams.
The Hornets have reportedly offered Faupala a four-year deal and the player's agent, Jennifer Mendelewitsch, says the youngster is keen on a move to Vicarage Road.
“This is no passing fancy, it is a footballing choice, he wants to play,” she told L'Equipe.
“David has a problem with some coaches. He feels exploited, just like his parents, by the club that has educated him.”
Lens director of training Pascal Planque insists however Faupala is not for sale, saying there is “no question he leaves”.
Watford midfielder Cristian Battocchio will almost certainly remain after being on the verge of leaving the club last week.
Davide Faraoni was another player linked with a loan move away, with Torino among the Italian clubs interested in the wing-back.
But Sannino said: “Faraoni will be with me [at Manchester City]. He is playing on Saturday so I can talk until Saturday when he will be with me.
“Faraoni is a Watford player and I am very happy he is here.”
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