Watford have agreed an amicable deal with Premier League rivals Liverpool for the transfer of academy graduate Jerome Sinclair. The young striker, who moved to Merseyside from West Brom as a teenager back in 2011, has now signed a five-year deal that will keep him at Vicarage Road until the summer of 2021.
Having persistently resisted overtures to sign an extension at Anfield amid perceived frustrations over a lack of first-team opportunities, Sinclair's representatives, Colossal Sports Management, confirmed via Instagram last month that the former England U17 international had signed an initial agreement with the Hornets to join after his current contract expires at the end of June. As he is under the age of 24, however, Liverpool would still have been entitled to compensation.
As the Reds discovered with the signing of Danny Ings last summer, such cases are rarely straightforward. In that instance, the club could not settle upon an agreeable fee with Burnley and the issue eventually dragged on for several months at a tribunal.
It was finally resolved in April, when it was decided that Liverpool would have to pay a guaranteed £6.5m ($8.7m) up front with another £1.5m potentially due in performance related-add ons. That fee is a record for a compensation tribunal and eclipsed the £3.5m Chelsea were instructed to pay Manchester City for the arrival of Daniel Sturridge seven years ago.
Thankfully for Liverpool, there will be no repeat of that ugliness this time around. In a statement released via their website, the club confirmed that they have reached an accord with Watford over a deal for Sinclair. While neither party has disclosed an official price, widespread media reports – including from the Mail – claim that the deal is worth approximately £4m.
"I'd like to thank everybody at LFC for all the support and making my five years at the club such a great experience," Sinclair wrote on social media after his departure was officially revealed. "I'm proud to have been able to represent a great club and I'd like to wish all the staff and the team all the best for future. For me it's an exciting new chapter and I can't wait to get started with Watford."
Sinclair, who was also reportedly the subject of a £1.5m offer during the January transfer window in addition to supposed interest from Aston Villa, has made only six senior appearances during his professional career to date. He became Liverpool's youngest ever first-team player back in September 2012 when he made his debut as a late substitute in a League Cup tie at West Brom and later appeared in top-flight matches against Chelsea and Crystal Palace.
His only involvement under Jurgen Klopp last season came in the FA Cup, when he started and scored in a 2-2 third-round draw at Exeter City and later replaced Cameron Brannagan in the latter stages of a stalemate with West Ham. He also made one appearance on loan at Wigan Athletic in 2015.
The 19-year-old becomes Watford's maiden signing of the summer and the first made under new manager Walter Mazzarri. Liverpool, meanwhile, have already begun strengthening with the additions of Schalke defender Joel Matip, Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius and Southampton forward Sadio Mane.