It’s fair to say that Adrian Popa has never really settled at Reading since his move from Steaua Bucharest in January 2017, and he could be set for a return to the Romanian capital this summer if recent photos are anything to go by.
The 29-year-old has been pictured training with his former club, who he made 210 appearances for in four and a half years, scoring 25 goals.
Popa’s contract at Reading does not expire until the summer of 2020, but he did spend the second half of last season out on loan at Saudi Arabian side Al-Taawon.
Steaua owner Gigi Becali has told DigiSport that he would happily have Popa back at the club:
“I told him that if he wants to come, he can come to us at any time. I do not care that he did not succeed in England, I know what can do [at] Steaua.”
It is not the first time Becali has tried to persuade Popa to return, saying that he would welcome the winger back “with open arms” last summer. But according to the player himself, a move wouldn’t be that simple. Popa said:
“I spoke between Mr. Becali and I was willing to come back. Becali wanted to help me, but I understood that it would be hard for me to play and could not accept that. Steaua has a policy, there are two players for the future, [Florinel] Coman and [Dennis] Man, and they have to be sold to bring the club’s profit.”
This is translated via Google Translate so may not be entirely accurate, but what Popa appears to suggest is that he would only consider a return to Steaua if he was guaranteed game time, and for that to happen the club would have to sell two of it’s most promising wingers - Florinel Coman (20) and Dennis Man (19).
Manager Nicolae Dica also helped clear up the situation, commenting:
“He asked me to receive him in the training. He’s on vacation and wants to keep fit. I had no problem with that.”
Dica was a coach at the club when Popa was there, so it seems as though the Royal has simply asked an old friend a favour in the off-season, which promisingly suggests that he is determined to fight his way into Paul Clement’s plans next season. There could certainly be a spot for him too, with Reading’s options out wide few and far between in the latter stages of 2017/18.