Why Maduka Okoye is in line to be the youngest goalkeeper in Watford owner Pozzo’s era

In January, Maduka Okoye signed for Watford in the Championship but was loaned back to Sparta Rotterdam where he helped the team escape relegation and left on a high

At the end of the 2021/22 season, Okoye returned to his new club and has been tipped to become the club’s new number 1 after the exit of Ben Foster, the club’s former goalkeeper.

Okoye, 22, is highly-rated and cost a huge sum from a Watford point of view for a goalkeeper at £5m.

Already a full Nigerian international, the Super Eagles goalkeeper has already teamed up with the Hornets where he’s settling and getting in shape ahead of the new season.

Explaining why Okoye may become Watford’s youngest number 1 under Watford owner, Gino Pozzo, The Athletic’s Watford Correspondent, Adam Leventhal wrote;

“You have to go back to the years immediately preceding the Italian takeover when Scott Loach was in goal to see another 22-year-old as first choice. Loach cost £50,000 from Lincoln City, Okoye closer to £5 million from Sparta Rotterdam. These are different times, with a different approach — albeit in the same division.

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“Gino Pozzo’s preference was experience: first Manuel Almunia, then Heurelho Gomes and, more recently, Ben Foster — all 30-somethings — in between the sticks.

“Having invested heavily in the imposing 6ft 5in Nigeria international, who helped Rotterdam battle successfully to stay in the Eredivisie last season, the expectation is that he will start the opening game of the season on July 30. If that happens, there will naturally be a ripple effect in the goalkeeper department.

“That will most notably impact the thought process of Daniel Bachmann. When Okoye’s transfer was announced in January — prior to him spending the second half of the season back in the Netherlands — it was a clear signal to the Austrian that he was unlikely to be given the chance to succeed Foster, whose contract was coming to an end. Behind the scenes, recruiting a new number one was high on the recruitment department’s priority list from last summer.”

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