A good debate to have in the pub is who is the best value for money signing of the Pozzo era.
Heurelho Gomes would surely top the list having provided stellar service since he was snapped up on a free in the summer of 2012, but you could easily make a case for Sebastian Prödl, Odion Ighalo, Almen Abdi and Craig Cathcart.
Étienne Capoue doesn’t really come into contention as he cost a then club record fee, but he does have the distinction of making what must surely rank as the bravest and boldest move of all the Pozzo signings who have walked through the door.
Capoue was on a sweet deal at Tottenham Hotspur when Watford came calling and, even though he was surplus to requirements at White Hart Lane, there are many who would have stayed and just sat out the remaining years of their lucrative contract.
From the outside, Watford were not a particularly attractive option. They had no head coach in place, were tipped to go straight back down and, at the time, had only managed to attract Giedrius Arlauskis and the then unheralded Prödl.
Getting Capoue to sign on the dotted line represented so much more than another midfield body. For starters, it spoke volumes for the persuasive powers of Gino Pozzo and Scott Duxbury. Cardiff had tried to get Capoue when they were promoted but failed.
Here was also evidence that Watford meant business and that they were able to sell the vision to international players in the prime of their career. Capoue acted as a beacon and made the sales pitch to the raft of signings thereafter a much easier sell.
The fact Watford had to deal with super agent Mino Raiola, who also represents Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba, to get Capoue was also another indication they had reached the big time.
“My agent told me Watford wanted to sign me but they were not in the Premier League,” said Capoue, indicating Watford had begun planning for the prospect of life in the top flight well before the promotion champagne had been cracked open.
“After I knew they were promoted, I called Gomes and he explained to me the inside of the club and how it was working. I then had a call with Gino and it was a very good phonecall. Straight after I understand what he wants to do with this club, what’s his goal. I signed without doubts. It was clear for me. He told me he was going to sign a lot of good players. I think I was the first.”
Capoue was almost joined by Spurs teammate Benjamin Stambouli. “I was talking with him as well and pushing him to come here but he chose PSG instead,” said Capoue.