Speculation has been rife over the future of Liam Moore at the Madejski Stadium, with the 24-year-old centre back being linked with Scottish champions Celtic, West Brom, Stoke City and West Ham over the past week.
This news has, understandably, concerned Reading fans because of how key a figure the centre back has become since his switch from Leicester City last season. He was a big part of Reading’s surprise third place finish last campaign and, with injuries affecting fellow centre backs Paul McShane and Tiago Ilori, Moore has become an increasingly important part of the team, as one of only three players to have started every single league game this season.
Reading manager Jaap Stam has already publicly stated his desire to keep Moore, who signed a four year contract extension at the beginning of the season. He told GetReading recently:
“Let me put it like this. If you want to build a club and go somewhere you're not going to sell one of your best players. The squad would get smaller every time and you'd have to look for other players again, so it makes it difficult for the club to progress.”
Losing such a key figure in the heart of defence would be a massive setback, and if he were to leave in January, it could be the catalyst which turns an average, midtable season into a relegation dogfight.
It is no secret that Reading are lacking a proven goal scoring striker with new signing Jon Dadi Bodvarsson having scored just three goals in 42 appearances at previous club Wolves. Similarly, Joseph Mendes has made only one league appearance this season as he continues to be blighted by injuries, and Yann Kermorgant has had to postpone his retirement by a season - such is the lack of quality the Royals have when it comes to strikers.
Although recent results have improved for Jaap Stam’s men, scoring three past Nottingham Forest and four past Derby County, goals will undoubtedly still prove to be an issue over the remainder of the season should it not be addressed in January. That was illustrated in the recent game against Wolves when Reading had lots of chances but were unable to convert them.
If Moore goes then it compounds the problem - in a side which has struggled to score a lot of goals, the last thing needed is to start conceding more as well. As previously stated, injuries have decimated Reading’s defence with the only two constants being Moore and right back Chris Gunter.
If the former Leicester Man were to leave then the Royals would be lacking dependable centre halves, and a team which finds it difficult to score goals as well as being unable to stop conceding them will almost inevitably be relegated. If Liam Moore leaves in January, this is what Reading may become.
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