Earlier, we got the Sunderland view on new Reading signing Ovie Ejaria. In this piece, we’ve asked the same questions to Liverpool writer Scott Taylor - Ejaria has spent the last few years of his youth career developing at Anfield.
How would you sum up his time at Liverpool?
For any young player, the most important aspect to look at is their progression. Yes, the appearances, the goals and the assists are always a good indicator at how a player is performing, but the development and the journey is crucial. For Ovie Ejaria, he arrived from Arsenal in 2014 looking to break rise through the ranks, and he’s done exactly that.
He’s moved from the under-18s to the under-23s with ease, and shone in the under-23s so had to make the next step up, which has been the loan spells with Sunderland and Rangers. He’s played in the Premier League with Liverpool, the Championship at Sunderland and even in the Europa League with Rangers, so the record suggests his time at the club has been successful, and with another two and a half years left on his current deal, he’ll continue to improve.
What style of player is he?
He’s yet another promising creative midfielder with all the tricks and skills most traditional number 10s have in the modern era. He’s exciting to watch, wants the ball at his feet, wants to make things happen and reads the game very well. He can pick out a pass, and is great with the ball at his feet, with his close control being particularly impressive.
The technical ability of the midfielder makes it is obvious that he has come through the academy set-up rather than rise through the non-league game, but as one of the his previous managers Chris Coleman pointed out, he has all the attributes, but lacked the experience, something that he has gained with his spell in Scotland under Steven Gerrard.
Despite this, like every player, there are weaknesses, but with risk comes reward. A pass might not always split a defence, a skill move that might not be perfectly executed or an easy turnover of possession with a heavy touch etc, but Ejaria does have the ability to execute all of the above, it’s just another part of his development and it will be more surprising if he doesn’t make mistakes at the age of 21.
A lot of Sunderland fans were excited by his style of play in a struggling Championship side and the good news for Reading fans is that he’s a couple of years older and will have learnt a lot since his spell in the north east.
What’s his character like?
Strong is probably the most appropriate word for his character. He cut his loan spell short from Rangers for ‘footballing reasons’, returning to Liverpool a few weeks ago instead of fulfilling his season-long loan at Ibrox. That can be read both ways - it can mean that he is a disruption in the dressing room, or - and more appropriately when it comes to Ejaria - he wants to push himself to the limit and wants what’s best for his development.
He could have easily stayed up in Scotland, under the management of a club legend in Steven Gerrard, playing in Europe and playing in front of more than 50,000 fans every other week, but for some reason, he stepped away from that and another loan spell in the Championship might be beneficial.
It could also be perceived that he is very driven as a professional and didn’t think that playing with Rangers was the best option for him. Reasons are unknown as to why he left, he could have seen how well Harry Wilson is doing in the Championship and wanted to test himself there, or he could have felt as if the Championship is a tougher league to test himself in and that’s not taking anything away from the standard of the Scottish Premier League, as especially this season, the title race has never been as exciting.
On the whole, is he a good signing for Reading?
Yes, he did well at Sunderland and this is just the next stage of his progression, working alongside another different manager in Jose Gomes. Another fresh face could also be good for Reading, to give them a boost in their fight for Championship survival (I cannot believe I’m writing that!)