Watford Release Ten Players Including Ekstrand
Posted by Sean Walker | Published on June 3, 2016
Earlier today, Watford have confirmed the release of ten players including Under-21 players George Byers, Josh Doherty, Matt Hall, Uche Ikpeazu, Jorell Johnson, Mahlondo Martin, Bernard Mensah, Luke Simpson and Alfie Young. Swedish defender Joel Ekstrand has also been released, one of the most notable players to be released from that list.
Ekstrand first moved to Watford in August 2012 following the takeover of the Pozzo family and was one of many to come from Udinese and was signed on loan like everyone else. On 24 July 2013, Watford confirmed Ekstrand had signed a three-year deal with the Hornets.
Ekstrand was an important first team player for several years, despite earning himself many injuries over the years. The Swede injured his left knee against Ipswich in the Championship, damaging not only his anterior cruciate ligament and his meniscus but fracturing a bone as well last season and was never able to get back to full fitness. Not only that, he would have had the likes of Angella, Britos, Proedl, Cathcart, Hoban and Belkalem to compete with at the centre back spot.
With his contract expiring at the end of the month, Watford fans have parted their ways with the 27-year-old who will be a free agent and will be looking for a new club.
Ekstrand was very grateful for the opportunity given to him and he has come out and said, “To all the fans that believed in me and supported me, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
“I’ve had four years at the club and the fans have always made me feel appreciated. I have some amazing memories from my time at Watford and some big highlights, like the Leicester semi-final at home during my first year, which was unbelievable, and then, of course, the promotion last season.”
The Hornets have taken the option to extend the professional contract of Alex Jakubiak for a further year after the 19-year-old striker enjoyed a prolific season in front of goal for the club’s Under-21 side. He also earned himself ‘development player of the year’ at the awards evening.
For his U21 colleagues, it was not meant to be. This, for me, is the dark side of the Pozzo’s. There is no point in having an academy if bright prospects like Mensah, Ikpeazu and Byers are being released without even being given a chance. These players deserved to be loaned out, I agree that they are not Premier League quality, but Ikpeazu, for example, is a proven goalscorer in League 1. Can they not be at least sold on?
The main talking point will be Ekstrand today for Watford fans, he was loved by many, and will be a real loss in the dressing room. For 100 appearances and two goals, Thank you, Joel.