Jose Gomes has confirmed that Sporting Lisbon are interested in signing Reading’s Tiago Ilori, and that the centre-back is interested in making the move back to the Portuguese capital.
Speaking to Portuguese newspaper Record, Gomes said:
“There are players [from Reading] with a market and Ilori is one of them. He wants challenges that bring him closer to a higher level, which he wants to be. I will understand what he wants to do, but there will be players out only if there are more to come and there will be a comeback.”
Google Translate hasn’t done the best job here, but the crux of what Gomes is saying is still fairly clear. He’s basically suggesting that Ilori is one of the Royals’ more valuable players, and that he does want a move that will test himself at a higher level. However, he will not be sold without a replacement lined up.
Both Record and Notícias ao Minuto claim that negotiations have already begun between Sporting Lisbon and Reading, with the Portuguese side already having already had a bid rejected - the Royals are reportedly holding out for €3 million, a fee close to what they paid Liverpool for Ilori back in January 2017.
The 25-year-old has made 62 appearances for the club since that move, becoming a regular around a year ago when Paul McShane was sidelined through injury. His contract in Berkshire runs until the summer of 2020.
Ilori previously spent seven years at Sporting, signing for their academy at the age of 13, and making 14 first team appearances for the first team before a move to Anfield in 2013 that was reportedly worth £7 million. A fall out with the then president Bruno de Carvalho is said to have played a role in his departure.
But with Carvalho dismissed last June, Sporting, who currently sit second in the Primeira Liga, are keen to bring back their academy graduate having seen central defender Marcelo depart for Chicago Fire at the end of December.
But as Gomes states, Reading themselves will not sell Ilori without another player in line to replace him. Donervon Daniels is the only defender to be linked with the Royals so far this month, but he may be seen more as a replacement for Tyler Blackett, who could make the switch to Wigan.