In a tell-all interview with French football magazine Onze Mondial, Reading striker Joseph Mendes revealed that he was close to joining fellow Championship strugglers Bolton Wanderers on transfer deadline day last month.
In a part of the interview where Mendes was asked about his relationship with Jaap Stam, he said:
“We have a good relationship. We respect each other. I think he likes my attitude. Last year it was not always easy with injuries and competition. But every time we talked, we had a good feeling. This year too for example, when the last day of the transfer window my transfer to Bolton didn’t go through, the next day he came to find me to tell me he was happy to see me.”
Mendes does not reveal whether the transfer would have been a loan or a permanent, or indeed why it did not go through, but this is certainly interesting information considering that there were no rumours at the time about a proposed move. Meanwhile, the 26-year-old is reportedly still injured, having not travelled with the Royals squad to their training camp in Spain this week. His contract is up this summer though, and you would expect him to move on.
Having moved to Berkshire from Le Havre in July 2016, Mendes has played a total of 20 games for Reading in all competitions, scoring just three goals. As the striker alludes to in the above quote, injuries have seemed to deny him opportunities, but undoubtedly his biggest, and perhaps only, highlight for the club so far was scoring a brace in the 3-1 win at Aston Villa last April. On that game, Mendes said:
“There were all our fans who had made the trip because Reading had never won there. It was our pet peeve somehow. We won 3-1, I score a double and then the fans sang my name throughout the match. Unforgettable.”
Mendes also discussed how fellow Frenchman Yann Kermorgant helped him settle in England last year:
“At first, it was really not easy [settling in]. [The] culture and language is another universe. Sometimes I came into the dressing room, there were jokes and I felt left out. The chance I had was to meet two French people: Yann Kermorgant and a young Yakou Meite, who helped me a lot. Especially Yann, he translated for me at the beginning.”
On Jaap Stam and his methods, the striker commented:
“Contrary to the image that people have of him, Jaap Stam manages the dressing room with an incredible self-control. I arrived in Reading like any nervous player. But as a coach, it’s very rare to see him shout. He is really calm. Tactically, he is a coach who loves football. In England, Reading has the reputation of playing with the ball. We start from the back, we build our attacks. Last year, it made us smile, but this year it’s more complicated because the teams know how to counter it.”
You can read the full interview here, where Mendes discusses the differences between French and English football, what he misses about France, what training is like, the atmosphere at English stadiums and of course the song that Royals fans have created for him.