Ismael Kone, who played in all three of Canada’s World Cup matches, has joined EFL Championship side Watford from CF Montreal.
Tom Bogert gave some details of the deal on his Twitter account, calling the deal a club record sale for the Canadian side, ‘reported around $8-10m, breaking the $6m they received for Djordje Mihailovic from AZ.’
Kone has been playing his club football north of the border, where he helped Montreal to finish second in the MLS Eastern Conference last season. However, they fell to a 3-1 defeat to New York City FC in the playoffs.
The much-hyped youngster is a central midfielder who can also play defensive and attacking roles. He has made 32 appearances for Montreal in total, scoring four goals with five assists. He is just 20 years old and Montreal is the only senior club he has played for.
Watford have signed CF Montreal midfielder Ismael Kone
Kone has eight caps for Canada, coming up with one goal against Bahrain. Although Les Rouges lost all of their World Cup games, Kone impressed enough for Watford to make the move on the player – or at least enough not to make them cancel a move which was all-but agreed.
He is the second player from Montreal to arrive on British shores this month, with Alistair Johnston joining Celtic. MLS is establishing itself as a feeder league for European teams, with Johnston and Kone putting Montreal on the map as a team that can produce top talent.
Watford is chasing promotion to the Premier League
Watford is currently fifth in the Championship, which is a playoff spot for promotion to the Premier League. The Hornets are just five points off Sheffield United in second place, who occupy the two automatic promotion places along with Burnley in first.
Slaven Bilic, who got West Bromwich Albion promoted to the top flight of English football during the 2019/20 season, is the Hornets’ manager.
Top Championship clubs in Norwich and Sheffield United have also been linked with Kone, both of whom are promotion rivals for Watford.
Bilic’s side currently plays with Hamza Choudhury and Edo Kayembe as defensive midfielders. They also have Tom Cleverley to return from injury, the former England international providing a great depth of experience for Kone to learn from.
The Championship will be a big step up for the young Canadian, and his first challenge will be getting into the squad ahead of Choudhury and Kayembe. Watford will need a big squad in their bid to get back into the Premier League and Kone will need to hit the ground running to prove he can play at this level.
Signing a young player such as Kone proves Watford is looking to the future. They will be desperate to get back into the Premier League and hopefully stay there, after they lasted just one season when they were last in the division, during the 2021/22 season.
Watford’s first game back, following the break for the World Cup, is this Sunday against Hull City at Vicarage Road. The Tigers are struggling in 20th place in the league this season, so a home win will be expected.
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