Jerome Sinclair: Watford's first summer signing in detail
(Picture - Zimbio)
Earlier this week, Watford completed their first summer signing, with young Liverpool striker Jerome Sinclair moving to Vicarage Road.
The youngster has signed a five-year-contract with the Hornets, having decided to leave Anfield at the end of his contract.
Sinclair came through the ranks at West Bromwich Albion and moved to Anfield at the age of 15. He was to become the Reds' youngest ever player, as he made his first-team debut at the age of 16 in the League Cup against West Brom in September 2012.
After a loan spell at Wigan Athletic during the 2014/15 season, Sinclair returned to Liverpool and made a handful of appearances for the Merseyside club towards the end of the season.
Sinclair, who has also been capped at Under 17 level by England, scored his first goal for Liverpool in January during the club's draw with Exeter in the FA Cup third round, but that was to be one of this final appearances for the Reds, as with his contract running out, he wasn't afforded much game time by Jurgan Klopp.
To find out more about Watford's new signing, I caught up with Ash (@Atjfootball - Twitter), editor of popular fan website ReadLiverpoolFC.com, to profile Jerome Sinclair in more detail.
The Watford Blog: Could you give me more of an insight on Jerome Sinclair and what his main attributes are?
Ash: "If I had to pick three things that I thought he excelled at, I'd say his finishing, pace, and power - which commonly are the ingredients for a pretty deadly attacker. His style is perfect for an 'off the last man' attacker and it's in that role where he's attracted the most attention, but in modern day football I think most teams want more out of their centre-forwards. More recently he's turned into a deep-lying forward - almost replicating Daniel Sturridge's role - and he's showed enough at youth level to suggest he could be useful in that role in the future. His pace and power helps, but his decision-making and first touch can sometimes be left to be desired, which is natural for a young player, and even more so for one who's natural game has always been just scoring goals. He certainly has the physical prowess to go on to be a very good Premier League striker, but might struggle to perform on a consistent basis for a while, as is often the case for people of his age."
TWB: Lots of people have said to me that Sinclair is a player with great potential. Would this be something you would agree with and if so, why?
Ash: "Absolutely. For the £4m fee that is being touted, I doubt you would've been able to get anyone else with greater potential. He showed a lot of ambition by leaving Liverpool for the opportunity of more regular football, which suggests HE thinks he's ready for the Premier League, but having only seen him in drips and drabs at a competitive level, it's hard to say. He made his debut just days after his 16th birthday, which I think is what really made Liverpool fans think 'oh, we might have a player on our hands here' because we haven't really been a club to throw youngsters in freely in recent years. I think with youngsters like him nowadays, they just need a chance to perform and I think you'll be able to offer him that more than Liverpool were. We've seen the likes of Rashford, Fosu-Mensah etc adapt to senior football effortlessly, whilst some just don't quite cut it, and I think that's taught a lot of people that for all the scouting, loan spells and training evaluation which goes into deciding whether you think a player will "make it" at a young age, sometimes you just need to give them a chance, and quite often those players will shock a lot of people. I'd say Sinclair definitely has the potential to do that. He has all the qualities to be a good Premier League striker in years to come, maybe very good."
TWB - Are there any areas of his game which he needs to work on?
Ash - "As I said before, Premier League teams want their strikers to drop back a bit more than you would perhaps have expected ten years ago, and that's something thatSinclair might not be that used to. Having said that, he has all the attributes to succeed as a player who is able to drop back and bring others into play. I just think he needs the experience of playing in that role and learning what it entails. He's done it often enough at youth level, but Premier League defensive midfielders can often be unforgiving and I think he just needs to be thrown in so he can learn and get the experience of it. He did fairly well against Manchester United U21s doing it, during which Fellaini was playing as a defensive midfielder, but I'm not sure how much of an indicator that is as to his ability.
"I'm nitpicking really. There's nothing he absolutely excels at, but again, there's nothing he's very bad at. He's just 'good' at pretty much everything and obviously has the advantage of having matured physically at a young age. He just needs to develop those skills steadily, and if he's given time and patience, I'm certain he'll go on to become a very good player for you in the coming years."
TWB: Would Liverpool fans have liked him to remain at Anfield?
Ash: "I personally would've liked to have seen him stay, but for a club like Liverpool, it's hard to say because you don't really know if they're going to get the opportunities to prove their worth and fulfil their ability, and I think that's why he decided to move on. Off the top of my head, I can think of about seven senior players who we'd play in the centre-forward role sooner than Sinclair. Klopp said that he wanted him to stay as well, but by all accounts it seems that the contract dispute he was in was as much to do with wages than it was to do with game time, which begs the question is his head in the right place. Is it all about money or does he actually want to go to better his career? I'd like to think the latter, but I think it may have perhaps been a bit of both, I don't think he felt appreciated here, but it's a common problem among top clubs nowadays. They want all the best first-team players, and all the best youth players, and it creates a problem - you can't keep everyone happy. I mean, Sinclair probably doesn't deserve to be any higher than our seventh-choice striker, and yet he's a decent player despite his tender age, so it's a hard one for the clubs and players involved."
TWB - From what you've seen of Watford, do you think he'd fit in at Vicarage Road and would he be a good signing?
Ash: Certainly. Last year, Ighalo gained quite a reputation for his pace and goals, whereas Deeney was seen as a bit of a work horse - from outsiders at least - and I think Sinclair probably fits somewhere in between. He is nippy and has the agility to get beyond the defence and he definitely has an eye for goal. He's quite a strong lad despite only being 6ft tall, so don't think his agility and goal-scoring prowess compensates for a lack of physicality in any way. I wouldn't expect to see him starting for you in the Premier League anytime soon, but he'll definitely be involved in your first-team and will probably make a few sub appearances before a judgement is made on where he's at as a player. He may do a Dele Alli and look at complete ease in the top-flight, but if not, I don't think a loan move to a Championship team would be a terrible move for him for the coming months as, right now, I think he just needs game time. You either need to start him, and let him learn, or let him start somewhere else, as I don't think he's much of an off the bench player. If he had incredible strength, or incredible pace, I'd say - yeah, he could come off the bench and change games as a wildcard - but as I said, he's just 'good' at pretty much everything. If he continues to progress at the speed he has here and becomes 'very good' at everything in two or three years' times, he'll be good enough to lead your line, but as I said, he just needs the opportunity to learn and progress to get to that level.
Thanks for Ash for answering my questions and please do go and give him a follow if you can! In the meantime, welcome to Watford, Jerome!!!