Reading centre half Jake Cooper has revealed he had no contact with Jaap Stam ahead of his recent loan move to Millwall. The academy graduate, who'll stay in South London until the end of the season, made the switch last week after the Royals finalised a deal for Liverpool defender Tiago Ilori.
“I heard a few things last week and then Reading signed a new defender. After that I spoke with Reading and it was all set for me to go."
“I didn’t know what was going on at Reading. I’ve had no real contact with Jaap Stam, it was all done by the directors but I’m here now and I want to get this football club back to where it belongs.
“That’s what football is about, you have to be ready for a move during the transfer window and I’m ready to do a job."
We knew Cooper was out of the first team picture, but it's still surprising that he had "no real contact" with the manager. The 21-year-old was a first team regular in the second half of last season, but struggled for game time under Stam, with the likes of Tyler Blackett and Joey Van den Berg picked ahead of him at centre half.
Judging by other comments, Cooper seems to have found a club he'll really enjoy playing for:
“Millwall was my first choice and I’m glad to have made this work. They’re fighting to get promotion and I want to be involved in a team that gets promoted.
“To get promoted out of this league with Millwall would be brilliant."
However, he's not giving any clues away about his future beyond the end of his loan deal:
“It’s too early to think about that. We’ll have to see what happens between now and the end of the season and take it from there.”
Millwall manager Neil Harris has also spoken about how happy he was to bring in Cooper, who made his Lions debut at Bradford last Saturday.
“Jake’s one I’ve been chasing all of January. I tried to get him right at the start of the month, but we had to be patient.
“Reading had to bring in a player to let him come out to us. I’m delighted we were able to do it."
Although the youngster didn't fit well into Jaap Stam's possession-based style of play, Harris feels that his skill set will compliment Millwall's promotion charge this season.
“First and foremost he is a left-footed centre-half – ideally we wanted to bring someone in to give us some balance on that side of the pitch. He’s an old-fashioned centre-half, he likes to head it and kick it.
“At 6ft 6ins tall he is dominant in both boxes. I watched him play in a game last Monday night and out of eight balls into the box he headed seven of them.
“Jake gives us more height and he’ll be a threat on the attacking side. It doesn’t half help you defend your own area with the presence he has got."
Harris also made it clear that Millwall could be interested in extending the defender's stay beyond the summer.
“These loans are a real opportunity for them to impress us, but also for us to impress them."
It's a real shame to see Cooper not make the cut at Reading, and you'd imagine that he doesn't have a long term future in Berkshire. Nonetheless, judging by Harris' gushing praise, Cooper will have a new club to move to that's very much right for him.
You can find Jake Cooper's full quotes, courtesy of News at Den, here.
Neil Harris was speaking to London News Online.