Watford are third in the Championship but while their start to life back in the second tier has been solid, Vladimir Ivic’s side still look as though they could be playing in a higher gear.
The January transfer window should provide the Hornets with an opportunity to make the tweaks necessary to do just that as they ultimately look to return to the Premier League.
Top of their list has to be signing a new left-back as the absence of Adam Masina has forced Ivic to crowbar players into the position, often leaving them unbalanced, and Leeds United’s Leif Davis could be a fantastic acquisition.
It would be unfair to say that the likes of Kiko Fermenia and Ben Wilmot have done a bad job filling in on the left flank but the addition of a specialist at the position could be exactly what the Hornets need to find that next gear and force their way into the top two.
Masina’s return remains unclear at the moment but he will be back at some point, which suggests that a January loan move to bring in a stopgap would be perfect for Watford.
The Hornets hierarchy should be eyeing up players in the Premier League and Davis, who helped Leeds become one of the sides that replaced Watford in the top flight this season, should be a top target.
Do you love Watford? Here’s 19 basic questions about the Hornets that almost every fan of the club should be getting right
The 20-year-old is a product of the Whites academy system and though first-team chances were intermittent last season, what he showed in glimpses were the characteristics that the Championship outfit are surely looking for – he is quick, hard-working, and as comfortable scrapping it out defensively as he is bombing forward.
In his senior career, Davis has won 59.7% of his defensive duels and averages 6.25 interceptions and 11.29 recoveries per 90 minutes (Wyscout).
On top of that, he has won 47.6% of his offensive duels, has connected with 83.3% of his crosses, while averaging 1.39 progressive runs and 1.22 successful dribbles per 90 minutes (Wyscout).
The fact that world-renowned manager Marcelo Bielsa turned to Davis as a substitute for the final 20 minutes or so of the Whites’ fiercely contested 1-1 draw with Manchester City earlier speaks volumes about his quality.
It’s unclear whether or not Watford could prize him away but Leeds have shown a willingness to loan young players out this season and the 20-year-old has featured just twice in total for the first team.
Regular senior football could help him take the next step in his development and eventually succeed Stuart Dallas in the Yorkshire club’s starting XI, which may tempt them into sanctioning a deal.
The Hornets need to be ready to take advantage if that is the case because Davis could be just what they need to take things up a gear.