Watford manager Xisco Munoz says the club will begin a “new era” without “legend of the club” Troy Deeney.
The former captain left Vicarage Road during August’s transfer window, having been at the Hornets for 11 years, to rejoin boyhood club Birmingham.
Xisco said the 33-year-old will “always stay in our hearts” having scored 140 goals in 419 appearances for the club.
He was pivotal in Watford’s 2016 promotion to the Premier League as well as their 2019 FA Cup final appearance.
Deeney, who missed three months of last season with an Achilles injury, was struggling with playing time at Watford and became a free agent last month.
Xisco, speaking about the transfer for the first time, said: “It is normal when you are 11 years in one club. I tell you I have big respect for Troy, it is a new era and he is a very good person.
“Last season, Troy helped me inside and outside the pitch. Everyone knows Troy loved Watford but also I think it is important everyone understands sometimes the moment passes and right now he has taken another direction.”
Comparing Deeney’s departure to Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham leaving their long-term clubs, Xisco said: “This is normal in football, we have to understand it can happen with anyone.
“I wish all the best for him in the future and I am sure he enjoys playing football all the time now.”
The Spaniard says the club needs to move on and focus on the current squad, adding: “Most important is to prepare very well for our game and our fans will try help us with this.”
Attacker Joao Pedro, 19, is said to have returned to full fitness following a knee injury, while summer loan signing Ozan Tufan may make his debut this weekend.
The 26-year-old midfielder, who joined from Turkish side Fenerbahce, trained with the club for the first time on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Francisco Sierralta’s availability is unknown after the 24-year-old Chile defender was not able to travel to play for his international side due to the UK Government’s quarantine rules.
Players who did not travel after being called up by four nations – Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay and Chile – have been banned for five days under Fifa regulations.
“We are waiting to hear [from] Fifa,” Xisco said. “I spoke with him about this but… we can do nothing. We will see what happens.”
Watford, who are currently 12th in the Premier League, face Wolves on Saturday at Vicarage Road.