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The Winners And Losers From Reading’s Retained List

Who’s come out well and badly from Reading’s set of contract offers?

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On Friday morning, Reading revealed their retained list ahead of next season, setting out who has a future at the club and who doesn't. Fortunately (or otherwise, depending on how you look at it), there weren't too many players with expiring contracts, with the departing set being restricted to the outer edges of the Royals' squad.

The decisions taken to renew, or not renew, contracts gives us a good indication as to how new manager Paul Clement views his players, and what we should be expecting from the squad in the coming years. With that in mind, we've taken a look at who's come out well from the retained list and who hasn't.

Winners

Paul Clement

The former Swansea City and Derby County boss didn't inherit a strong squad from predecessor Jaap Stam - far too many of the playing staff were ineffective, often injured, squad players who didn't offer that much to the new manager.

However, by clearing out the likes of Stephen Quinn, Joseph Mendes, Dennis Rakels and others, Clement has that bit more room in his squad and a few extra pounds in his wage budget to bring in some reinforcements over the summer.

Andrija Novakovich, Sam Smith and Danny Loader

The departures of Rakels, Mendes and loanee Chris Martin open up plenty of room in Reading's striking department, with Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Yann Kermorgant now the club's only two established, experienced forwards. Although another goalscorer will be on the transfer window shopping list, there should still be opportunities for at least one of Novakovich, Smith or Loader to get game time.

Smith, who's scored in the league and FA Cup for Reading, is probably top of that mini pecking order, but Novakovich's 21 goals in 37 appearances for SC Telstar this season put the Wisconsin-born forward in with a strong chance.

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A string of academy players

Congratulations are in order for Moroyin Omolabi, Cameron Green, Jazz Wallace and Jack Nolan who have all accepted professional contracts with Reading, having been developing in the academy over the last few years. Meanwhile, Akinwale Odimayo, Jamal Balogun and Andre Burley have been offered deals but at time of writing are yet to accept them.

Granted, it’ll likely be a while before any of them make their first team debut, but it’s still great to see them continue their progress at the club.

Anssi Jaakkola

The big surprise to come out of the retained list was the news that Finnish goalie Jaakkola would be sticking around for another year. The former Ajax Cape Town man was a quiet backup for Ali Al-Habsi and Vito Mannone before failing to impress in an unexpected run of starts in the closing weeks of the Jaap Stam era.

Although he's done little to warrant that new contract, Clement evidently wants an experienced back-up to Mannone next season - after all, the highly-rated Luke Southwood and Lewis Ward are to yet to play at a level beyond non-league. Speaking of whom...

Losers

Luke Southwood and Lewis Ward

Granted, they don’t have any experience in a high division - Ward (21) has been on loan at fifth tier Aldershot Town, whilst Southwood (20) spent the season at sixth tier Bath City - but an understudy role shouldn’t have been beyond either. By giving Jaakkola a new contract, a logical pathway to first team football - giving them senior experience on the bench for league games and a few run-outs in the cup - has been denied to both youngsters.

Reassuringly, both have been offered new deals and look set to have long-term futures at the club, but it is frustrating that the opportunity to promote one to second choice has been overlooked, at least for now.

Anyone hoping for a quick squad overhaul

There's been plenty of speculation (and hope) amongst the fanbase that Paul Clement would enact a mass clearout of the squad this season before rebuilding with a raft of signings to rejuvenate the team. Although Friday's released list goes some way to facilitating that, it doesn't go very far.

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Reading are likely to try to move on at least some of: Tyler Blackett, Joey van den Berg, Dave Edwards, and Adrian Popa (I'm sure you've got other names to throw in) but, the club will need to find buyers for them first. For underperforming players, that's easier said than done.

Stephen Quinn

It's been a desperately frustrating couple of years for Stephen Quinn. The Irishman was a key cog in the briefly very good Steve Clarke side of late 2015, but his Reading career has otherwise been hamstrung by injury (pun unintended).

Although we always expected that he'd be looking for new opportunities this summer, it's still a sad exit for someone I'd have loved to see feature more often.