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The State Of Play After Deadline Day

Here’s where the Royals stand after a busy few months of the market.

Reading Press Conference - Madejski Stadium

That’s it, we’re done. After months of the summer transfer window, Reading are now unable to bring in any more players until January 1 2020 - although the window remains open in the lower leagues and across Europe for at least some more of August, meaning we could see some departures.

In total, the Royals made 10 new signings, adding significantly to a squad that looked short on quality even right before the start of the season. Reading also managed to ship out a decent number of players, thereby improving morale and managing the budget.

Of course, much of this was done against the backdrop of a ‘soft transfer embargo’ which severely restricted our ability to bring new players in. However, this was eventually rescinded by the English Football League, with Reading later flexing their muscles to recruit new talent.

Who came in?

Reading made a total of 10 signings, which breaks down as follows:

  • Two purchases for a transfer fee (coming to around £13m combined, albeit not all up front)
  • Three free agents
  • Five loan signings

In terms of personnel...

*Ejaria arrived on loan with a view to a permanent transfer next summer.

And by position...

  • Two goalkeepers
  • Two centre-halves
  • Three central midfielders
  • One winger/forward
  • Two centre forwards

Despite only paying a fee for two players, Reading have managed to seriously upgrade their squad across the board, with full-back being the only position untouched by the summer transfer activity. What’s more, the Royals have introduced a mixture of experience and youth, and both UK-based and previously non-UK based talent.

It says a lot that it’s so difficult to pick out the individual standout here. Although the obvious candidate is record signing George Puscas, returning loan stars Matt Miazga and Ovie Ejaria will have something to say about that. Plus, you can’t rule out the potential impact of the talented Pele, Rafael and Lucas Boye, three players largely unknown in England.

Even moving away from them, adding know-how to this squad was vital after the departures of Paul McShane, John O’Shea and others, but we’ve done that by bringing in Michael Morrison and Charlie Adam. Their influence behind the scenes could prove key too.

Reading v Chelsea - Pre-Season Friendly - Madejski Stadium Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

Who left?

At the time of writing - on deadline day evening - Reading have lost 22 senior players that were on the books last season in some way, shape or form. Below, I’ve included all the loanees that returned to their parent clubs (even if they came back to the Madejski Stadium), plus those that were out of contract at the end of June.

They break down as follows:

  • Three players sold directly to another club (whether for a fee or not)
  • Seven released at the end of their contracts on July 1
  • Two whose contracts were terminated early
  • Six loanees
  • Four players loaned out

In terms of personnel...

  • Lewis Ward (sold to Exeter City)
  • Liam Kelly (sold to Feyenoord)
  • Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (sold to Millwall)
  • Marc McNulty (loaned to Sunderland)
  • Liam Driscoll (loaned to Yeovil Town)
  • Luke Southwood (loaned to Hamilton Academical)
  • Sam Smith (loaned to Cambridge United)
  • Darren Sidoel (released early)
  • David Meyler (released early)
  • Saeid Ezatolahi (returned to Rostov)
  • Ovie Ejaria (returned to Liverpool)
  • Lewis Baker (returned to Chelsea)
  • Nelson Oliveira (returned to Norwich City)
  • Emiliano Martinez (returned to Arsenal)
  • Matt Miazga (returned to Chelsea)
  • George Legg (released)
  • Anssi Jaakkola (released)
  • John O’Shea (released, retired)
  • Paul McShane (released)
  • Danzell Gravenberch (released)
  • Callum Harriott (released)
  • Joey van den Berg (released)

And by position...

  • Six goalkeepers
  • Five defenders (counting Sidoel and Gravenberch)
  • Six central midfielders
  • One winger
  • Four strikers

The key theme here was in cutting down the size of the squad, thereby reducing the wage bill and improving morale. A vast number of players have been let go so far, with the key part being the 12 non-loanees who were taken off the books permanently. However, even departures like Marc McNulty’s temporary switch to Sunderland have played their part in this squad rebalancing.

On the flipside, Reading lost a lot of quality when the five January loanees returned to their parent clubs; Ejaria, Baker, Miazga, Martinez and Oliveira all improved the first team in some way. Replacing their impact on the first team proved to be a key theme of the transfer window, but bringing back 40% of them is a tidy success rate.

Who didn’t leave?

The elephant in the room here is of course Adrian Popa’s waistline the players that Reading wanted to get off the books but couldn’t. The Royals continued January’s policy of excluding from training those that didn’t fit into Jose Gomes’ plans - a policy that Nigel Howe said was of the manager’s making - in the hope that these squads could find new clubs.

Unfortunately, although some did leave the club (McNulty, Bodvarsson, Meyler), others didn’t. At the time of writing, this includes Chris Gunter, Garath McCleary, Adrian Popa and Sam Baldock - although the latter was brought back into the fold for pre-season and the matchday squad at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

Modou Barrow, while very much not on the excluded list, is reportedly of interest to some clubs on the continent. Jonathan Low from GetReading reported that the Gambian may well be sold or loaned out before the trip to Hull, while there was (ultimately inconsequential) interest from Derby County.

Anything else?

Besides the caveat that some of what I’ve written could well change pretty quickly if a foreign club comes in for one of our players, there’s just one more loose end to tie up. Reading took Denzeil Boadu on trial during the pre-season tour to Spain but, having evidently not impressed Gomes, the former Manchester City is no longer involved with the Royals.