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Two Senior Players Linked With Mad Stad Exits

Could two of our most experienced players be heading to pastures new?

Manchester United v Reading - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The transfer window is well and truly open and sadly our failure to reach the Premier League means we've still got to cope with the realities of being one of the smaller fish in the footballing pond. That leads to speculation surrounding our better players and this weekend's Sunday papers have plucked out two names to be linked with moves away from Reading.

The first is the more believable, in Chris Gunter. According to the Sunday Mirror and The People, the man who led Reading out at Wembley is wanted by new Middlesbrough boss Garry Monk. After spending last season in the Premier League, they're certainly a club with a few quid to spend, while from the Reading perspective, Gunter is now entering the final season of the contract extension he signed last year.

Adding further smoke to the fire is the fact we've been linked with Barnsley full-back Andy Yiadom in recent weeks, so could Jaap Stam be preparing for life without the man who's made more Reading appearances than any other current player?

While the move makes sense on some levels, it's quite easy to find reasons for it not to happen. Gunter is a settled man down south, with the furthest North he's had to venture being Nottingham Forest. Likewise, Stam clearly has faith in Gunter, so why would he want to allow him to go while he's still under contract?

Still, it's a rumour that's worth keeping a bit of an eye on.

The second set of speculation surrounds a far more unlikely mover, Ali Al-Habsi. The Daily Mail claim he's wanted by West Brom boss Tony Pulis to provide a sound back-up to Ben Foster. The same publication has also suggested Ali could move to a club in the Middle East, with several clubs from Saudi Arabia interested.

This one feels much harder to believe, especially given the keeper only just signed a new two-year contract and seems perfectly happy in England. Stam has shown no inclination to replace him between the sticks and at 35, he's not at the age where he should be surrendering first team football just to sit on the bench at a bigger club.

However, a verified tweet relating to Al Hilal suggests a three-year contract at the Saudi club isn't far away...

"Final step with Al Habsi's agent, #AlHilal 3 seasons. Agreement with the player and his club Reading to purchase his contract," it reads, following a June 22 tweet indicating the start of talks.

As always we'll keep an eye on both deals throughout the summer.