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M'Vila: I want Sunderland stay

Sunderland
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Wenger faces defensive dilemma

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Watford swoop to sign £1.5m Francis from Wigan

Watford have signed midfielder Damien Francis from Wigan for a fee that could rise to £1.5million.

Francis, who only spent one season at the JJB Stadium, has signed a three-year contract with the Hornets.

The 27-year-old becomes manager Ady Boothroyd's fifth signing of the summer, joining Scott Loach, Claude Seanla, Sheku Kamara and veteran Chris Powell at Vicarage Road.

After previous spells with Wimbledon and Norwich, Francis brings what Boothroyd describes as 'strength to our central midfield area.'

Boothroyd added: 'I knew Damien from my time at Norwich and he's a professional right to the end.

'Things have not happened for him at Wigan and that sometimes happens at some clubs, but I think we're right for him and he's right for us.

'He's a £2million player, and the fact we've got him for the money we have is a real coup for us.'

Boothroyd stated: 'Damien now has the opportunity to fight for a first-team place and help us climb the Premiership like we climbed the Championship.'

Francis started out as a first-choice midfielder under Wigan boss Paul Jewell following his arrival from the Canaries just over 11 months ago.

But as the season wore on, Jewell opted for a central-midfield pairing of Jimmy Bullard and Graham Kavanagh, forcing Francis onto the fringes.

Jewell would have preferred Francis to have remained with the Latics, but was not prepared to block the player's path.

'Damien's a great professional who never gave me anything less than maximum commitment on the field and off it,' said Jewell. 'We gave him permission to speak with Adrian Boothroyd when Watford came in for him.

'When a player is so professional in his conduct, I would always allow him the choice to do what he wants if a club makes an enquiry.

'We didn't want to sell him because we do not have the biggest squad here, but I respect him too much as a person to stand in his way, and he goes to Watford with our best wishes.'