It doesn’t feel like that long since the summer transfer window slammed shut, but its January cousin is now open for business. Reading brought in seven players between June and September in 2017, letting another six leave on permanent deals. We’re not expecting anything like that level of activity this month, but there are sure to be some comings and goings at the Madejski Stadium.
Jaap Stam showed this time last year that he’s not against bringing players in on loan midway through a campaign to boost his squad, so that’s something to look out for. We also don’t know how much money our Chinese owners will give the gaffer to play with, so all of the below speculation could be rendered utterly redundant.
Don’t expect anything to happen here, with Vito Mannone doing well as Reading’s number one, Anssi Jaakkola an able deputy and George Legg featuring regularly for the under-23s. Lewis Ward, Luke Southwood and Gabe Rosario stay out on loan in the lower divisions, so will likely continue their development.
The only thing to keep your eye on here is the future of Jonathan Bond, who’s been impressing at Peterborough and will probably stay there until the end of the season when his contract expires.
Jaap Stam’s been forced into playing Chris Gunter at left back and Leandro Bacuna on the right quite a lot this season, whilst Jordan Obita won’t play again this season. Tyler Blackett divides opinion as a left back, Omar Richards is yet to properly become a first team regular, and Tennai Watson is battling back against long-term injury. All of that suggests another full back is on Stam’s shortlist.
Reading had been linked with Cardiff City’s Declan John, but the left back instead opted for a move to Graeme Murty’s Rangers. James Tavernier, a right from the same Scottish club, is a rumoured target.
In theory the squad is quite well stocked here, with Liam Moore, Paul McShane, Tiago Ilori, Tyler Blackett and Gabriel Osho all able to fill in (add Joey van den Berg, Chris Gunter and George Evans depending on how generous you’re feeling). That said, there are plenty of reports suggesting Moore could be off to West Ham United, which would leave the Royals desperately short of quality in this position.
Even if the club do manage to keep the former Leicester man, another centre half could arrive. Stam has never quite managed to tighten the team up at the back, so reinforcements would be wise.
Again, there’s no shortage of players here: Joey van den Berg, George Evans, John Swift, Dave Edwards, Leandro Bacuna, Liam Kelly, Stephen Quinn, Pelle Clement and Andy Rinomhota have all played in the middle of the park this season.
However, should a particularly good player become available for a reasonable price, Stam may be tempted to dip into the transfer market. Jack Colback from Newcastle United is a rumoured loan target, whilst there was also (hopefully untrue) speculation that Jordon Mutch may be making a return.
A departure is most probable here, with Adrian Popa struggling for game time this season despite Garath McCleary’s injury problems and the shaky form of Sone Aluko and Roy Beerens.
Other than that, I can’t see too much happening. Nothing to see here. Move along.
If Reading could only sign one player in January, it’d surely be a striker. The club memorably failed to do that in the summer, with key targets Nelson Oliveira, Jordan Hugill and Tomer Hemed slipping through the net, so Stam, Tevreden and Gourlay will have been looking for alternative options over the last few months.
Really, it all boils down to a question of money - will Dai Yongge give the manager a pile of cash to throw at a new forward? It’s unlikely, but until we see how this window goes, we can’t completely rule it out.
On the other hand, should that striker come in, don’t be surprised to see Sam Smith or Danny Loader go out on loan, or Joseph Mendes leave (either permanently or temporarily).