Former Real Madrid and Barcelona right-back Kiko Femenia has agreed a four-year contract at Premier League club Watford.
Relatively unknown in England, the 26-year-old has played his entire senior career in Spain. His journey started with Hercules and he also had spells with Barcelona and Real Madrid’s B teams between 2011 and 2014.
After a short spell with Spanish second tier outfit Alcorcon, Femenia penned a one-year contract with Alaves. He contributed five goals in 38 appearances during his debut season to help guide them to the Segunda Division title and more importantly promotion to the Spanish La Liga.
He played as a winger until being converted into a right-back during his two-year spell with Alaves. The Spanish full-back played under newly appointed Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino at the club.
Overall, he made 77 appearances and scored five goals between 2015 and 2017 at Alaves. He left the club on 6 June as his contract was due to expire and Marco Silva has signed him on a four-year contract.
Watford have made three other signings in the early stages of this summer’s transfer window. Tom Cleverley has signed a permanent deal following his loan spell from Everton, Will Hughes swapped Derby County for Watford and Austrian goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann has joined from Stoke City.
The hornets played with a back-three under Walter Marrazzi last term, with Nordin Amrabat playing in the right-wing back role. Daryl Janmaat is also likely to return from injury to contest for the right-back position.
What to expect from Kiko Femenia?
Kiko Femenia played a pivotal role in securing promotion to La Liga and reaching the Copa Del Rey final during his two-year spell with Alaves. He likes to dribble and would fit perfectly into the right-wing back position due to his history of also playing as a right winger.
Watford regularly played with a long ball style last term, which is unlikely to suit the playing style of Femenia. He’s played his entire career in Spain and the national passing philosophy has been embedded into his DNA.
Last season, he made an average of 1.6 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per game in the Spanish La Liga. He boasts an 83% pass completion rate, completing 29.8 short passes and misplacing 4.5 short passes per game.
He’s incredibly weak in aerial battles and lost half of his aerial duals during the 2016/17 campaign. According to Spanish newspaper AS, Watford beat the likes of Valencia and Villarreal to Femenia’s signature.
This further emphasises his good reputation in Spain but the next task will be to adapt to the Premier League. Watford manager Marco Silva is likely to play with a back-four next season, which means Femenia will face tough competition.
Daryl Janmaat listed whom I mentioned earlier and Juan Zuniga will be competing for a starting place. Craig Cathcart has also been played at right-back in the past and Nordin Amrabat may also be considered to revert to the right-back position.
Three Things To Know About Kiko Femenia?
• Kiko Femenia has suffered from anxiety attacks during his senior career. He claimed his spell at Real Madrid was “emotionally ruining”.
• Femenia was a highly rated midfield prospect at 19 but dropped down to the Spanish second tier after failing to make a single senior appearance at Barcelona and Real Madrid.
• He was converted from a right winger to a right back during his spell with Alaves.