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Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Which players could be leaving Berkshire this summer and which look set to stay in the Royal County?

Huddersfield Town v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

With the conclusion of the 2016/2017 campaign coming with a penalty shoot-out defeat for Reading in the Championship play-off final, what follows is a period of uncertainty in terms of how the club approaches the next season and deals with agonisingly losing out on the prize of £170 million and Premier League football.

One of the most pressing issues (certainly for the fans) will be the movement of players. Reading finished third in the league, and battled their way through two tough games against Fulham in the semi-finals of the playoffs, before holding Huddersfield Town all the way to the bitter end of the final. Their performance this season will not have gone unnoticed by other clubs in the division, or even those in the top tier who might be looking at the next Jamie Vardy.

Below is a shortlist of players who might be looking to leave, and those who will be more eager to stay and help the club go one better next time around.

Likely to Leave

Danny Williams

The image of Danny Williams, doubled over and crying on the Wembley turf on Monday, mirrored almost exactly the same thing I had seen in 2011, when Shane Long also showed his emotions at the same location following defeat to Swansea City. Just a few months later, the Irish striker had moved on to West Bromwich Albion, fulfilling his ambition to play in the Premier League.

There is no doubt that Williams will follow a similar path. It's the least he deserves, after being a standout player across all three play-off games, as well as barely faltering for Reading throughout his time with the team. I don't think anyone would consider him 'ditching' The Royals either, as he has more than played a role for us, and he has certainly had Premier League football in his eyes for some time now. His tears were real, however; he would have been happy to stay if Reading had gone up.

Transfer Likeliness: 9/10

Garath McCleary

A strong contender for Player of the Season for most of the campaign, McCleary had one of his best stints in a blue-and-white shirt this season. But he was a virtual spectator for much of the playoff campaign, largely due to a waiting groin operation, which has curtailed his effectiveness on the pitch. Nevertheless, injury aside, no one will have missed his earlier performances, where he was able to weave through defences at the drop of a hat.

His motivations for leaving may not just be down to Reading not winning promotion. If Jaap Stam continues to favour two strikers up front next year, then wingers will have limited game time for The Royals going forward. A player like McCleary will be looking to play week in, week out, and rightly so. Extended time on the substitutes bench will not be a comfortable position.

While it is unlikely that a lot of top tier clubs will be clamouring for his talents, he may, like Oliver Norwood last August, opt for another Championship club who perhaps offer more of a chance of success next season. Fulham might be a possibility.

Transfer Likeliness: 6/10

John Swift

While he only arrived in Berkshire last season, the ambitious John Swift will have surely been aiming for achieving great things as quickly as possible. A certified England U21 with future international hopes, to get the attention of the national coach he will need to be plying his trade in the top tier.

He started the season well, opening the scoring for Reading in the 2016/2017 campaign, and proving a dead-ball specialist alongside his creative talents. While he suffered injury across the winter period, and didn't quite return to form in the second half of the season, there is still something in him which will have gotten the attention of rival teams.

Given his recent arrival, and the possibility that Stam is looking to continue with him as 'playmaker' of the side, he would be giving up a fantastic position with a side who will be pushing for promotion next season to start again somewhere else. But these sorts of moves are not unheard of in modern football.

Transfer Likeliness: 3/10

Likely to Stay

Ali Al-Habsi

The Oman goalkeeper has certainly revived his career over the past two years, winning back-to-back Reading Player of the Season awards and becoming a fan favourite thanks to his heroics in goals. His sporadic blunders between the sticks are not forgettable in a hurry, but rather outweighed by the amount of points he has surely gained for the club.

He has pronounced his love for the club several times, and even toward Jaap Stam this season, which means, while he is likely to be an in-demand 'keeper in the Championship this summer, it is unlikely his loyalty toward the Berkshire side will be swayed by money and/or promises elsewhere.

Liam Kelly

Before the start of the 2016/2017 season, Liam Kelly's name was probably more familiar to those Football Manager players who have virtually decided Reading's future in recent seasons. But he was the breakout star of this campaign, proving a determined midfielder who gave one-hundred-and-ten-percent every game and chases every last ball.

While his status as a young player showing potential makes him a prime candidate for a bigger team to swoop in and take him under their wing, it is unlikely the young midfielder will be upping sticks so soon. With a long career ahead of him, he will have his time in the future to make such a move if he wants to.

Yann Kermorgant

There are many reasons why Yann Kermorgant will be spending his last season at the Madejski Stadium, and his thirty five years of age surely isn't top of the list. Scoring nineteen goals in this campaign, he will certainly have raised eyebrows from other managers in the division who have seen a veteran player, never known for his speed, outsmart and out-muscle their defences across the whole season.

But he plays an important role for The Royals, one which he will certainly be expected to continue next year. He also has a year left on his contract, his final year, and there is no doubt where that year will be spent.

Which players do you think could move away from Berkshire this summer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...