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Nkoulou becomes first Watford signing in the Ranieri era
08/10/2021 11:08:58

Watford have confirmed the signing of central defender Nicolas Nkoulou – becoming new manager Claudio Ranieri’s first signing.

Nkoulou joins as a free agent, signing a deal that will last until the end of the season.

The 31-year-old has represented Cameroon at two World Cups and helped his country win the 2017 African Cup of Nations.

Nkoulou began his professional career at Monaco and went on to make over 100 Ligue 1 appearances during a five-year spell at Marseille.

After a season with Lyon, the defender moved to Serie A side Torino, with whom he spent two years before departing as a free agent at the end of last season.

In a club statement, the Hornets said: “Watford FC is delighted to announce the signing of Cameroonian defender Nicolas Nkoulou on a deal until the end of the 2021/22 season.

“The 31-year-old arrives at Vicarage Road as a free agent and boasts a wealth of experience at domestic and international level, with an African Cup of Nations title win in 2017 among his career highlights.

“While he has also featured for the Indomitable Lions at two World Cups, his first of more than 70 caps came in 2008 following a call up by the Under-23 side for that year’s Olympic Games in Beijing.”

Becoming Ranieri’s first signing since joining the club – the Italian manager replaced Xisco Munoz who was sacked on Sunday.

Ranieri is Watford’s 13th permanent manager since owners the Pozzo family took control of the club in 2012.

He famously guided Leicester City to the Premier League title in 2016 and last worked in England during a brief stint at Fulham in 2018-19.

After Munoz left, Watford stated that a “negative trend” in showings led to the manager’s departure:

“The board feels recent performances strongly indicate a negative trend at a time when team cohesion should be visibly improving.

“The Hornets will always be grateful to Xisco for the part he played in securing last season’s promotion and wish him well for his future career in football.”

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