Zim starlet Chikukwa released by Watford

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Jimiel Chikukwa (right) has been released by Watford after a stint with the club's academy

Championship side Watford have confirmed the departure of teenage Zimbabwean striker Jimiel Chikukwa.

The 19-year-old former Leeds United Academy forward joined Watford’s academy in September last year with the hope of breaking into the then Premier League side’s first team.

He however failed to make an impact at the relegated English Premier League side’s academy and has not been offered a new contract following the Vicarage Road giants’ demotion to the English second-tier.

In the just-concluded season, the Hornets finished in the 19th position having garnered 23 points from 38 league outings.

“Following the conclusion of the 2021/22 Premier League season, Watford FC can confirm that five first-team players have left the club,” a statement from the club website read.

“The following Under-23 players will be departing the club upon the end of their contracts this summer: Derek Agyakwa, Dante Baptiste, Jack Broome, Jack Burchell, Ryan Cassidy, Jimiel Chikukwa, Kamil Conteh, Kane Crichlow, Jordan Harrison, Dominic Hutchinson, Andi Janjeva, George Langston, Kyrell Lisbie, Kyreece Lisbie, Josh O’Brien, Adam Parkes, Dan Phillips, Maurizio Pochettino and Henry Wise.

“We thank the departing players for their contributions and wish them the best of luck for the next steps in their careers.”

Chikukwa had impressed during a trial stint at the Hornets where he scored three times, and the forward continued his good form in front of goal after signing for the club.

Early this year the England-born Zimbabwean teenager joined National League South outfit Maidstone United on loan until the end of the 2021/22 campaign in search of regular first-team action.

Chikukwa however endured a difficult spell at Maidstone, featuring in one game as a late substitute before returning to Vicarage Road in March.

While he would have hoped to earn a new deal at Watford, the club has decided to release him ahead of next season.

Chikukwa will leave the side with eighteen other players from the club’s U23s squad when their contracts expire in June.

Notably, Maurizio Pochettino – son of PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino – is on the list of departing U23s players at Watford.

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