Christian Kabasele left Watford on the 25th of July, 2023, signing for Italian outfit. Udinese for what was officially – as most transfers seem to be these days – an undisclosed fee. Little information exists about what that fee might have been, but given the 32-year-old’s low market value, we suspect it was nominal by modern standards.
In this article, we take a look back at Kabasele’s time at the Hornets, running through various stats, as well as highs and lows. We will also look at the broader picture for those who may be less familiar with the player.
Who Is Christian Kabasele?
Although a full international for a side recently ranked the best in the world, Kabasele is not a household name, certainly beyond Hertfordshire! So, if you haven’t a clue who he is, here are the key facts.
- Born in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) on the 24th of February, 1991
- Moved to Belgium as a child, rejected the chance to play for DRC and has two caps for Belgium, for whom he made the 2016 Euros squad
- Supported Arsenal as a child
- Spent youth career with Eupen in Belgium and played for them in two spells
- The central defender moved to larger Belgian side Genk in 2014, making 76 league appearances for them
- Signed for Watford for around £6m in July 2016 and made his Premier League debut against Arsenal that August
- Played 166 times for Watford, mostly in the Premier League, scoring seven goals
He is a centre back, right footed and six feet, two inches tall and has very occasionally been used in midfield. He represented Belgium at virtually all of their youth levels and played for the full national side in two friendlies. Despite being named in the squad for Euro 2016 and the provisional squad for the World Cup two years later, he never made a competitive appearance for the Red Devils.
Like most Belgians he is multilingual and, as well as English, he speaks German, French and Dutch. He has two children, who, he said in a message to supporters when leaving the club, “have grown up as Watford fans”. He also said that “After seven beautiful years here for me and my family, it’s time to say goodbye.”
Kabasele’s Stats at Watford
In his first season in English football, he took a little while to settle and was substituted off in his PL debut against Arsenal. His early days at the club were somewhat unsettled by rumours of him joining Udinese – who he has now signed for – despite only having just joined.
In that first campaign, he made 16 PL appearances, scoring twice, overall playing 18 games and getting three goals in all competitions. However, nine of those 16 were from the bench as he adapted to life in England. The following season he was a far more regular first-XI presence and made 28 league appearances (just one as a sub), scoring goals against Everton and Spurs. That season he played 31 times in all and was beginning to become influential off the pitch as well.
In 2018, he was given the club’s Community Ambassador award recognising what he gave back to others. He did a lot of work with local children, saying that it was great to give them the opportunity to meet players and see their smiles. In September 2022, he received even greater recognition from beyond the club in the shape of the Professional Footballers’ Association Community Champion award. This was due to his involvement in a range of initiatives covering the local community, equality, inclusivity, and his general help with Watford’s Community, Sports and Education Trust.
Consistent Presence & FA Cup Runners-Up Medal
The Belgian international was on the bench for the 2019 FA Cup final and may, at least in part, be happy he stayed there. His colleagues on the pitch were torn apart by a rampant Man City, losing 6-0. A day for all at Watford, including Kabasele, to forget, perhaps. However, few players get to be involved in an FA Cup final and he did play in one of the earlier rounds that season.
Throughout his Watford career he was a consistent presence in the side without ever fully nailing down a spot or having that sense that he was a guaranteed starter. His overall performance stats below illustrate that and across seven seasons with the club he never made fewer than 17 appearances but never more than 31.
|Season||League Appearances||Division||Total Appearances||Total Goals|
Overall the defender played 166 times for the Hornets, netting seven goals. That included 108 in the Premier League during which he netted four goals, was credited with two assists and helped keep 17 clean sheets. At the time of writing, before appearing for his new club Udinese, that means that well over half (166 out of 331) of his total senior club appearances have been for Watford.
As well as his PL career with the Hornets he helped them bounce straight back from the Championship in 2020/21. That was surely one of his highs but there were lows as well. The relegations in 2019/20 and again in 2021/22 were obviously among those.
The latter, in particular, was galling, the club losing 11 times in a row at home and managing just two wins in front of their own fans. In addition, Kabasele was disappointed that his team could do no better than finish 11th in the second tier last term. Even so, he remembers his time at the club fondly, served them well on the pitch and, perhaps more than anything, showed off the field that he was definitely one of the good guys.