“Of course, Iniesta has the experience and everything else, but if you look at the things Liam can do he certainly comes close to him.”
This was high praise indeed for Liam Kelly from Jaap Stam two years ago, with the Dutchman clearly a huge fan of the diminutive midfielder. After all, he handed a 20-year-old Kelly his Reading debut in August 2016, playing him a total of 34 times that season as the Royals reached the play-off final - where Kelly scored his penalty in the shoot-out.
However it wasn’t plain sailing for the pair after that - Stam was sacked in March 2018, and Kelly played a total of just 29 times under his predecessors Paul Clement and Jose Gomes.
Now though, they could be set to reunite as Fox Sports Netherlands report that Stam has confirmed he is interested in signing Kelly for Feyenoord, having taken over as manager of the Rotterdam club this summer. He said:
“This is a boy with a lot of potential. He can also play the way we want to play football. We are working on it, but we always have to wait and see what happens and if it’s possible.”
Many supporters were surprised that the midfielder was not part of the group transfer-listed this summer, instead returning to pre-season training on Monday. However, he did not play a part in Reading’s first friendly of the summer this afternoon - a 2-0 win over Southend United that saw a different XI in each half, with Michael Olise and Mo Barrow the goalscorers.
Instead, Andy Rinomhota, Ryan East, John Swift, Jordan Holsgrove and a trialist (expected to be Denzeil Boadu) were the midfielders used at Hogwood by Jose Gomes, who has not selected Kelly since he criticised the 23-year-old’s performance in the 4-0 defeat at Sheffield United in February.
Kelly was also rumoured to be close to linking up with Stam in January, when the 46-year-old was in charge of PEC Zwolle, while Courtney Friday reported yesterday that Luton Town are also interested in signing him.
Update: Udinese are also believed to be in for Liam Kelly.