Managing Reading Football Club’s summer transfer plans is an unenviable task. We have a bloated squad, the bulk of whom are on wages above their station, we have a club that has fought relegation two seasons running, and we have a new manager who will have every right to want to implement his philosophy. But we also have a couple of big talents grown out of our academy.
Danny Loader and Andy Rinomhota are the two prized assets in the Royals squad right now. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Shane Long they ain’t (yet) but it’s fair to say that any young English player with some promising Championship or youth international displays has value.
There is a clear case for ‘cashing in’. A few million for both makes our dire financial situation a bit rosier and, like any other player, their form could drop, legs could break, and heads could turn.
But I’m not sure that’s the way Reading need to approach this duo’s future. A key point of Jose Gomes’ tenure has been building a club with an identity and character, and keeping hold of academy players can be key to that. Have we really learned anything if we sell them on the premise it will allow us to sign a few League One randoms who are yet to make the grade?
We know this summer will be a painful one, as if not spaffing millions of quid on the likes of Sone Aluko is any less painful than doing so, but clubs like ours need to be shrewd and work the loan/free transfer market much better than we have been doing. It is entirely possible to shed whatever excess we can shed, bring in a few loans a la January, and round it off with youth to achieve safety.
I think it is probably the riskier approach to keep hold of them, particularly with Loader only have a year left on his contract (although Gomes would likely face no problems dumping him out the team if he refused to sign a new deal). In addition, no fan knows the exact extent of the financial tidal wave approaching the club and a speedy £3 million sale may stop a winding up order - which would be hard to argue with.
And yet, there is the reasonable chance that we keep hold of them and they have great seasons, ergo their value next summer might be triple what it is now, and a sale would be much more profitable (and inevitable).
Either way, Reading are playing with fire but I think that, should our finances allow it, we should gamble on sticking a high price tag on these youngsters and use them as the foundation to build the club. Because that’s what we are, a football club. Without a little risk and sentiment every now and again, what’s the point?