Reading have confirmed the departures of midfielder Jack Stacey and defender Zak Jules. 21-year-old Stacey has moved on to League Two Luton, while 19-year-old Jules is off to League One Shrewsbury. Neither move has a confirmed transfer fee, though Reading will be due some form of compensation for the pair, as they've come through our Academy system.
Stacey is the more well known of the pair, having featured six times in the Reading first team and appearing on the bench on several other occasions. However, all of those senior appearances came during the 2014/15 season and since then he's failed to feature, settling for various loan spells including Carlisle and Exeter.
Jules will be 20 this summer, but had already made a decent name for himself after featuring regularly for Scotland at youth level as well as earning a loan move to a Motherwell side then managed by Mark McGhee. Yet so far he's managed just eight starts at league level in either country and has decided to turn down a new deal at the Madejski in order to seek regular football. As the man himself told Shrewsbury's website.
“I’ve just come off the back of a loan to Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership, and just that taste of first team football made me want it more, so coming here on a permanent two-year deal is mentally better for me.”
We wish both players the very best of luck with their future careers and it once again shows the fine work done by the club's Academy that another two graduates look set to remain in the Football League.
However, I don't see either move having a great deal of impact on Reading any time soon. In Stacey's case, he's at the age where he should be making a significant impact at a higher level if he wants to displace the likes of Garath McCleary, Roy Beerens or Callum Harriott in the Royals squad. While he's shown flashes of quality out on loan, he scored just once for Exeter, and the reports coming back from Devon didn't make it sound like we had a Championship player in waiting.
Jules may be more of a long-term blow but you can't blame a player from wanting to move on and have some stability. The picture at the heart of Reading's defence is a crowded one right now and while you can say 'oh he should have stayed and gone on loan' remember the human factor of being able to try and get some stability in life. He's far more likely to get a consistent run at Shrewsbury and he's young enough to work his way back up into the Championship and perhaps beyond.
Likewise, Reading aren't Chelsea and we can't just throw tons of money at players to just stockpile a group based on potential alone. As Academy Manager Lee Heron told us here at TTE last season, the club has hundreds of players in the youth setup at any one time, not to mention the large first team squad that Jaap Stam has at his disposal. As we wrote after Tariqe Fosu's departure, you just have to trust in the scouting and management teams to keep the best and brightest at the football club. You're always open to missing out now and again but if nobody ever made a mistake, clubs like ourselves would never end up with a bargain.
So what do you make of the pair leaving the club? Best for all parties or some lingering regrets? Let us know.