Vito Mannone has joined Danish Superliga club Esbjerg fB on a loan deal lasting until the end of this season. The Italian shot-stopper, whose contract expires in the summer, is unlikely to make another first-team appearance for the Royals after falling further down in the pecking order.
The 31-year-old goalkeeper first moved to the Madejski Stadium in the summer of 2017 to replace the departing Ali Al-Habsi, although it was always going to be an uphill task trying to replicate some of the performances that the Oman international was putting in when he was at Reading.
Rafael, Sam Walker and Coniah Boyce-Clarke are now the three first-team goalkeepers that Mark Bowen has chosen to be in his squad. And with Rafael putting in some outstanding performances, the writing was always on the wall for the Italian in terms of his Reading career.
This is not forgetting that Luke Southwood and Jokull Andresson are other options for the Berkshire side, although the former is currently out on loan in Scotland.
Mannone has endured a mixed spell of form at the Royals, making several match-winning saves as well as making a few clangers. The finest moment of his Royals career came against Queens Park Rangers in March 2018, making a match-winning penalty save at a time where Reading desperately needed three points. His late penalty save away at Leeds United earlier on in the same season was another legendary moment.
However, his mistake against Derby County on the opening day of the 2018/19 Championship season proved to be Mannone’s downfall at Reading. The Royals were 1-0 at the time, when a Mason Mount shot slipped through his fingers and in to the Reading net.
Even before that, he was in stiff competition with Anssi Jaakkola who was proving to be a very capable shot-stopper. In February, he finally managed to get away from Berkshire, securing a one-year loan deal to Minnesota United, before returning to Berkshire this month.
Best of luck Vito!