When Watford achieved their target of an immediate return to the Premier League following the 2020/21 campaign, an immediate return back to the second-tier is not what they had in mind.
It was a dismal campaign from start to finish for the Hornets in the top flight, with the club going through three head coaches on their way to a 19th-placed Premier League finish.
With Roy Hodgson leaving the club following the conclusion of the campaign, new boss Rob Edwards will now take over the reigns at Vicarage Road ahead of the club’s Championship return.
With their new boss in place, the hierarchy at the club will once again be looking for an immediate bounce back to the top flight, but that is far easier said than done.
Having said that, here, we’ve picked out three players we think that the Hornets must try to keep hold of this summer that could help them achieve their aims next campaign.
Joao Pedro is the first player we’ve picked out that the Hornets must try to keep at the club this summer.
The Brazilian forward only scored three goals in the top-flight for Watford this campaign, but his development was there for all to see.
The 20-year-old is a far better player than he was in 2020/21 when he scored nine goals and registered three assists in the division, and if Watford can keep him at the club, 2022/23 could be a real breakout year for the youngster.
In a two up front under Rob Edwards next campaign, there is plenty of goal and assist potential for the Brazilian.
Imran Louza is another player that Watford should be looking to keep hold of this summer and build around in the Championship next season.
Louza joined the Hornets fron FC Nantes last summer, but endured a slow start to life at the club following a poor debut away at Brighton early on in the campaign.
Watford fans did not see the Moroccan midfielder for a few months, but when he returned to the line-up, the Hornets began to see the reason the club had invested in him.
Having been to AFCON in January, and missed the run in after having knee surgery, it was a bit of a stop-start campaign for Louza in 2021/22, however, should he remain at Watford, he could be one of the key players under Rob Edwards.
The Hornets should do everything they can to keep hold of the 23-year-old this summer.
Having only joined the club in January, Hassane Kamara had a big impact in a short space of time at Vicarage Road.
The Ivorian full-back made just 19 Premier League appearances for Watford after his move from Nice, but still did enough to win the player of the season award at the club.
Whether or not Kamara is willing to drop down to the second-tier of England remains to be seen, but having signed with the Hornets in the relegation zone, the 28-year-old must have always considered it a real possibility that Watford could go down.
Kamara is a firm fan favourite in WD18 already, and should he stay next season and become a key player for the club, the affection he has received already from Watford fans will only continue to grow.