Reading’s long hunt for a striker is finally at an end with news that Sam Baldock will take up the number 9 shirt for the Royals. The Buckingham-born forward joins Paul Clement’s side from Chris Hughton’s Brighton and Hove Albion, taking a step down from the Premier League for more regular football.
In doing so, he’s agreed a three-year contract at the Madejski Stadium after the two clubs agreed an ‘undisclosed’ fee. The 29 year-old has been a target for Reading throughout this summer, having first been linked a few months ago.
Baldock is Reading’s sixth first-team signing of the summer after the arrivals of Andy Yiadom, David Meyler, John O’Shea, Marc McNulty and Sam Walker. He’s the seventh if you include young centre-half Darren Sidoel who’s more likely to link up with the under-23s than be part of the main squad.
Up front, the Royals can now count on Sam Baldock, Marc McNulty, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Yakou Meite as striking options, with Danny Loader developing in the academy and Sam Smith likely to join Andrija Novakovich out on loan.
Speaking about the transfer, Paul Clement said:
“I’m very happy that Sam has joined us here at Reading, having pursued his signature throughout the summer. I always felt he was the right striker for us to bring to this club in terms of his age, his experience and his quality.
“Now, I look forward to working with Sam on the training field in preparation for Friday night’s home game against Derby County.”
Whilst Brian Tevreden added:
“Sam is a player we have been interested in signing since the transfer window opened, so I am very pleased we have been able to bring a striker of his calibre into our squad ahead of the start of the 2018-19 season.
“Goals are vital to any team and, in Sam, we have added a player who thrives on finding the back of the net and a striker who is hungry for more success.”
Baldock started out his career at MK Dons, making his debut for the club in the 2006/07 season. He would play a further 155 times for Dons, scoring 40 goals in the process, before a move to then-Championship side West Ham United in 2011. After five goals in 24, he traded East London at the end of that season for Bristol City, where he would find the net 36 times in 93 appearances across two seasons.
Since then, he’s spent the last four years at Brighton and Hove Albion, a time in which the club challenged at the top of the table before finally getting promoted in 2017. He wasn’t so prolific there, with a record of 20 goals in 94 games, but was a key player in Albion’s promotion-winning side. In 31 matches, he scored 11 times and registered 5 assists.
However, injury derailed his chances of impressing in the Premier League, and in the end he featured just twice in the league and four times in the FA Cup for Brighton last season.