Reading have confirmed the signing of Rafael Cabral (often known simply as Rafael) on a free transfer. The Brazilian goalkeeper joins from Serie A side Sampdoria, who ripped up the player’s contract on Monday lunchtime so that he could join the Royals on a three year deal.
He’s the sixth signing of what’s certainly been an interesting summer transfer window. Matt Miazga, Lucas Boye and fellow stopper Joao Virginia have all come in on loans, while Charlie Adam and Michael Morrison were added on free transfers.
Rafael has spent the entirety of his career thus far in either his home country - Brazil - or Italy. After two years with Santos, he had a half-decade with Napoli between 2013 and 2018, before joining Sampdoria on a free last summer. However, he typically wasn’t a first choice in Italy, only playing more than 20 times in a season once - 23 games in the 2014/15 season.
This addition means Reading now essentially have three first-team goalkeeping options: Rafael, Joao Virginia and Sam Walker, while Jokull Andresson and Coniah Boyce-Clarke are the two most senior academy players in this position. Luke Southwood and Liam Driscoll are on loan at Hamilton Academical and Yeovil Town respectively.
Jose Gomes therefore has plenty of competition between the sticks, and more experience in what had previously been a very young department. Saturday’s starting ‘keeper Virginia is only 19 - and currently has just one senior appearance under his belt, while Walker is 27. Even so, Walker’s poor performance in the second half of the Chelsea friendly will have done little to persuade Gomes that he’s up to the task of competing for a place in the first team.