Jamie Pounds makes his TTE debut to take a look at what he feels Jaap Stam needs to do in the transfer market this window, and puts forward a few names that might interest the Reading boss.
With Tiago Ilori arriving at the Madejski Stadium earlier this week and Garath McCleary agreeing to put pen to paper with the Royals until 2020, a slight smell of optimism and positivity has suddenly struck supporters. It's been a welcome boost after the disappointing display against QPR and now we can start to hope that the defence is being shored up.
A key factor that excited the defender and ultimately secured his decision, was the opportunity to play under Jaap, with the success he's brought to the club in just under six months. Since the departure of Brian McDermott, Reading have begun to make some important impacts on the transfer market. We saw the likes of Roy Beerens, John Swift and Liam Moore joining the club in the summer, a calibre of player we've not been accustomed to over the last few years.
The 'Dutch revolution' has had a big part to play in this, as Sporting Director Brian Tevreden has formed a great partnership with Stam, with the pair combining a good eye for talent with some impressive negotiation skills.
What Needs Changing?
Although the club have made some excellent signings, dramatically bolstering our promotion chances compared to previous seasons, there is still room for improvement. An area that has definitely been a key point of concern amongst supporters is the lack of a recognisable goalscorer. Yann Kermorgant has been the leading frontman notching up seven goals, with Dominic Samuel’s bright performances making him a prominent feature in the first team squad.
However, the talent pool hasn't been particularly deep all season. Dennis Rakels has been sidelined with an ankle injury since August and Joseph Mendes along with Yakou Meite have failed to make an impact in Stam’s starting 11. With so few dependable options available, it’s not a surprise that striking frailties have been a hot topic on Stam’s agenda and it could do with some spicing up.
So will he have the chance to bring in fresh blood? Well we’re all aware of the club’s financial state at the moment, and although we reportedly made some decent bids for Brentford's Scott Hogan, it is unlikely we’ll be able to afford their demands that stand at a staggering £15m!
With that in mind, here are three more reasonable alternatives that could be on Stam’s radar.
Danny Ward - Rotherham United
Though Rotherham have had a torrid first half of the season sitting rock bottom, Ward has been in great form scoring a third of the club's goals. If Jaap is interested he'll have to fight off some stiff competition from QPR who've had a second bid of £1.5 million rejected.
John Marquis - Doncaster Rovers
Doncaster look a good bet for promotion from League Two and a big part of that is the quality and goalscoring form of John Marquis. The Rovers striker has knocked in 13 goals for Donny this term and is a firm fan favourite at the Keepmoat. A player scoring for fun in League Two and not coming with a hefty price tag may be a more comfortable option for the Reading. Adam Le Fondre or Dave Kitson anyone?
Nakhi Wells - Huddersfield Town
Reading fans are only too aware of Nakhi Wells' skills in front of goal, with five goals against us in the past three years, so could he be the Royals' missing piece of the puzzle? Wells snubbed a new deal with the Terriers back in November and there is every reason to think he could be out the door during this window. It's one Stam may be looking into but if so we'll have to blow our transfer record out of the water as Town apparently won’t accept an offer under £8 million.
While Stam considers his options, in the short term it's reassuring for us to see a manager who recognises the same problems as the fans. So who do you think the Dutchman needs to bring in during the transfer window?
Thanks again to Jamie, and if you've ever fancied writing for The Tilehurst End, why not drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org?