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EXCLUSIVE: The Swedish defender is out of contract at the end of the season and the Blucerchiati could offer him a route back to Serie A

Sampdoria are preparing a contract offer for Watford defender Joel Ekstrand, whose deal at Vicarage Road expires this summer.

The 26-year-old played a key role in Watford’s promotion from the Championship last season, but has yet to feature in the Premier League this term due to a cruciate ligament injury.

Ekstrand’s contract with Watford is set to expire in June, with the club eager to keep hold of him by offering him a three-year contract extension.

However, the centre-back is in no rush to make a decision given the interest in him from Serie A.

Goal understands that Sampdoria are closely monitoring the contract talks between Ekstrand and Watford, and are preparing to make a Bosman move for the player.

The Blucerchiati have one of the worst defenses in the Italian top-flight this term, conceding 30 goals in 19 games, and coach Vincenzo Montella is desperate to strengthen his backline.

Atalanta are also admirers of the Sweden international, who has been at Watford since 2012 after moving over from Udinese, who are also owned by Italy's Pozzo family.

Ekstrand recently returned to full training and playing in a reserve match for Watford against Brentford this week.

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