Sone Aluko arrived at Reading last summer with an unwanted reputation: the most expensive player in the club’s history. Whatever the specific amount it was, the pressure certainly seemed to have a huge cost (pun intended) on his performances in a pretty dismal opening season at the Madejski Stadium.
Although the fee has been rumoured to be in the region of £7.5 million, it’s been a point of controversy ever since. Sky Sports went with that amount back in August, although Brian Tevreden categorically denied it a few weeks later, telling GetReading:
“I want to be clear the £7.5m is really not true. I don’t know where it came from.”
Pretty clear then - or not.
Fast-forward to last night (Tuesday May 22), and Fulham CEO Alistair Mackintosh has claimed at the AGM of the Fulham Supporters’ Trust that the fee was indeed in the region of £7 million. Director of the FST Chris Gilbertson paraphrases it thusly:
“Reading’s opening offer for Sone Aluko was £1m. Eventually rose to £7m. We didn’t want to sell but that offer was too good to turn down.”
A quick site note on the £1 million figure - I’m sure we didn’t actually expect to get Aluko for such a low amount. Considering the rumours started a month before we got the player, it was likely the opening bid in lengthy negotiations.
Personally, I’ve been sceptical all season that Aluko cost anything like £7 million - it smelt a lot like a figure that was put out to the media by Fulham to give the impression that they’d negotiated a really good deal. The amount seemed like a lot, and Tevreden’s assurances put me at ease that Reading weren’t actually silly enough to pay £7 million of their hard-earned money for Sone Aluko.
Mackintosh’s comments would suggest that I’m wrong - if anyone’s going to know the fee, it’ll be the CEO of Fulham. Speaking eight months or so after the sale, you’d also think that there’s little reason for him to inflate the price, even for a room full of Fulham fans.
That said, his comments don’t mention the breakdown of the reported £7 million. The overall figure would likely include any add-ons such as promotion and performance-related bonuses, and that could perhaps explain the difference between Mackintosh’s number and Tevreden’s rebuttal.
Whatever the overall number, it shouldn’t take away from a desperately disappointing campaign for the player himself. For whatever reason, the Nigerian never seemed to properly settle at RG2 and, besides glorious goals against Derby County and QPR, he’s not given his new fans much to cheer about.