According to reports from Thailand, Reading have added a new player to their academy. This would be Tom Stevens, a 15-year old from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. He'll join up with Reading's academy next season.
"Ah, but Bucks! Why on earth does his name sound so, well, not at all Thai?"
Because he's only half Thai - in fact, he's half British via his father, and has relatives in Nottingham. With it being pretty difficult to get a visa for Thai youngsters that want to join Reading's academy, having dual-nationality certainly helps (more on that later).
So, is he any good? Well, as reported by Football Channel Asia, he had previously been looked at by Everton, who run a 'Chang Everton Junior Cup'. In fact, Stevens was named the footballer of the tournament in 2014 (see below).
Looking at all of that, it would suggest that Reading are getting a pretty highly rated youngster for their academy. Plus, should we end up developing a Thai talent (albeit a half British one), flogging replica shirts on the streets of Bangkok becomes that bit easier.
"More on that later"
This isn't the first time we've heard about Reading wanting to sign dual-nationality Thais. As I wrote at the end of July last year, media reports were suggesting that the club were wanting to embrace that policy. Such names included Charyl Yannis Chappuis (Thai-Swiss), Mika Chunuonsee (Thai-Welsh) and Anthony Ampaipitakwong (Thai-American). However, none of those moves seem to have materialised.
Evidently, the Royals haven't thrown those plans away. It would appear that the Thais want to bolster Reading's academy with global talent - the kind that can pay off financially too. Is that the mark of an irreponsible ownership that doesn't have a long-term plan for the sustainability of Reading Football Club? Nope.
The original article, which was translated with the help of Google Translate, can be found here.