The Feast From The East
This summer has seen Reading fans privy to an almost unrivalled quantity of potential signings, not just in name but also by nature as the Royals have consistently followed through and bagged those who entered the gossip columns as unlikely lads. Clearly something is different about The Royals this year and it is not hard to see where, with the ownership change leading to sizeable bids that we hardly made in the Premier League, let alone in tier-two.
For news outlets, finding exclusivity and individuality in amongst the mass of social media 'ITKs' and fansites, while being unable to rely on traditional journalistic skills that larger, professional organisations base themselves around, is difficult. Reading between the lines is useful, but can lead to blind guessing that leaves one exposed to falsehood. For example, I read about a set-in-stone deal reliably informed due to a player's preference for a southern locale; that player moved to Rangers. On the same note, it seems a certain Hal Robson Kanu is re-appearing on gossip columns in earnest, with a constant link to a move over the Severn, be that with Cardiff or Swansea.
A Bridge Too Far
The fundamentals behind this move are clear; HRK is a Welsh international in a world where teams prefer their own country-men, he's a good player, he wants to play in the Premier League, and his contract runs out soon. A convincing argument doesn't usually have the luxury of four good reasons but here we have just that. The big problem is that scratching beneath the surface renders the majority of such an argument redundant.
Let's begin with Cardiff, where a grand total of one Welshman plies his trade in the first-team. A move to the 'Diff was constantly mooted over the last couple of summers and it simply did not fit the narrative for the Bluebirds, who have relied on signing big names when in the top division. Recently, Russell Slade's tenure has reversed the trend of purchasing old has-beens to promising lower league upstarts. None of the above, is the category Robson Kanu fits into here.
Now to the latest link, with Swansea. Aside from the fact it is largely based around the deliberately preferential defining of an ambiguous statement to suit a story - a journalistic 'tool' many of us have been guilty of - the same plotholes emerge. Buy-low sell-high is the Swans' transfer initiative, sealing fringe youngsters from bigger teams avoids the inflation of most English players and fills the necessary squad quotas. Remember, Swansea may be Welsh, but their home-grown squad rota doesn't have to be! In addition, up-and-coming imports from Europe and beyond are snapped up; once again Kanu fits neither of these bills. Thus, the supposed elephant in the room of the London-born winger's Welshness and ability when alongside Gareth Bale in a red shirt is hardly definitive when just two Welshman make Swansea's matchday squad.
The point most Reading fans will have an issue with is the assertion, or very concept, that Robson Kanu is of Premier League quality. One excellent year aside, the attacker has flattered to deceive with Tilehurst Enders all to well informed about how his inability to consistently match his potential and obvious ability renders him frustrating for the majority. Seemingly fervent in many trades, Robson Kanu remains a master of jack all.
The issues surrounding his contract will remain a sideshow for the Royals' upcoming campaign, as an extreme rise or drop in form will make his departure on a free seemingly inevitable - only a middling justification without interest will keep him at the Madejski - bar the spectacular. However that has not stopped Nick Hammond providing the most believable part of this rumour: the £4 million asking price. Bonkers many may feel it to be, the Madejski Stadium hierarchy rate the academy product to a large extent and this cajoling to profit from potential would reach its pinnacle if the winger does leave for such a price.
Perhaps the issue is common sense. Triumphant homecomings do happen as we have seen (it's not often Jem Karacan and Carlos Tevez fall into the same category) but to the informed eye, this is not one of them. It is increasingly difficult to maintain a steady gaze on all transfer rumours, what with the aforementioned vast swathes of modern information. And yet, that is where the answer lies. Such data is out there instantaneously, so it should theoretically not take long to find flaws in such prophecies.
The problem is that everyone wants to be right, and in doing so no one wants to risk being wrong. If Robson Kanu moves to Swansea next week this article will make myself look a bit of a fool, as well as the many vocal neigh-sayers that naturally jump to scepticism in an increasingly mad world of football transfers. Sticking my neck out and dissecting this rumour for all its worth may end up being an amateur mistake, but in doing so I hope to achieve the important process of grounding ourselves in reality for when such stories come along.
Transfer rumours have appeared nonsensical in the past and yet the beauty of football is that Bastian Schweinsteiger has signed for Manchester United and Hal Robson Kanu may join Swansea. Keeping us guessing is part of the fun for writers and readers alike.
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