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Of the centre-backs on Watfords books, Samir was always the most likely to want to leave.

He informed the clubs hierarchy of his decision earlier in the summer and is in talks with a club in Italy but he wont be returning to Udinese (from where he arrived in January) orSerie Anewcomers AC Monza (the team he was linked with earlier this month). Watford are facilitating his onward passage with agent Mogi Bayat, who acted for the club in brokering the original deal, likely to be involved as Samirs six-month spell comes to an end.

Samir, though, is Watfords only left-footed centre-back; a vital cog in the wheel if you want to play three at the back and have a player that can dovetail well with a left wing-back. Theres a natural flow to having a central defender comfortable on that side. The ball can run across the body and the player can head quickly forward or out to that flank with ease. Its all about passing angles and trajectories (on the ground and in the air) as explained brilliantlyhere.

Watfords last pre-season friendly before the start of the season the 0-0 draw withSouthampton was the first that the 27-year-old hadnt been involved in. Even though it was likely he was going to be leaving, the decision was made to use him as much as possible to ensure the balance of the side. Its not imperative that a left-footer plays in that position but it helps the overall picture.

Samir attended a team meal at Novikov restaurant in central London on Saturday night to signal the end of pre-season and it may prove to double as a leaving party, too.

Now the focus has switched to getting a replacement in as soon as possible. Right-footedCraig Cathcartwill likely fill in on that side until that player arrives but for how long will depend on various elements that may not be in Watfords control.

The Athletichas learnt that enquiries have been made about a number ofPremier Leagueplayers who may be available on loan. The plan is to bring in a homegrown player, and there arent many who fit the bill. Left-footed centre-backs arent quite gold dust but if you want them to fit other criteria including being reasonably priced, available for loan and preferably with Championship experience then youre certainly selecting from a limited pool.

The first isBrightonsMatt Clarke. Informal talks to gauge his situation have taken place with his representatives but they are said to be at an early stage. There is interest in the 25-year-old from a number of clubs including West Brom, where he spent last season on loan and won the clubs player of the year award.Stoke Cityare also known to admire Clarke and are watching his situation closely.

Clarke has a year left on his Brighton contract and the club hold an option for a further year but it is understood that they would be open to offers.

The defender has yet to make an appearance for Brighton since arriving from Portsmouth in 2019. He spent his first two years on loan at Derby County, where again he showed his ability and popularity by winning the clubs player of the year award. At the Amex Stadium,Lewis DunkShane DuffyDan BurnandJoel Veltmanhave limited Clarkes options but hes now played 114 games at Championship level during his career (its 291 with 11 goals at all levels).

Clarke has been training with Brighton during pre-season and a final decision about his future whether he stays or leaves on a loan deal with an option or obligation to buy, or a permanent transfer or when that could be. Quite a few Premier League clubs leave deals like this until the last minute just in case players pick up injuries during the first few weeks of the season.

Another candidate is a player Watford looked into signing in January before opting for Samir:Aston VillasKortney Hause. He has had minor surgery on his right knee this summer and is due back to training in August. He last played in January againstEverton, before featuring on the bench until the start of March under Steven Gerrard. The surgery is understood to have corrected an issue that he has been playing with for a while, and he is now confident of being able to play consistently without any discomfort.

Villa have only four senior centre-backs available Tyrone Mings, Callum Chambers,Ezri Konsaand new signingDiego Carlos so it is expected Hause may become available only for a loan later in the window, which closes on September 1.

Hause extended his Villa contract in January until June 2025 and has other suitors besides Watford. Head coach Rob Edwards does have a previous link with the 27-year-old after coaching him during his time atWolves.

If Watford did opt for Hause, it wouldnt preclude them from signinganother target from Villa, Cameron ArcherEFLrules stipulate that clubs can sign no more than four players from another team, of which no more than two players can be over the age of 23.

Like Clarke, Hause would be considered to be an ideal candidate as hes played at a higher level where Watford hope to be heading back and also has Championship experience.

Other candidates would be appealing but they are almost certainly going to be out of Watfords reach.ChelseasLevi Colwillwho spent last season on loan at Huddersfield,is a target of many clubs in Englands top division and beyond. His parent club may also utilise him but things have been described as being up in the air in that regard according to a source close to the defender. The 19-year-old, who has been on the radar of Watford in the past, is likely to have more attractive and lucrative offers than those possible from Vicarage Road.

The same applies toHullsJacob Greaves. Enquiries were made as to whether he may become available but the asking price was deemed too high. Sources close to the player confirmed that the 21-year-old is expected to command a fee in the region of 5-7million, which is out of Watfords price range this window following relegation.Watford transfer news The options to replace Samir at left centre-back