Well, that was dull. Reading went into the January transfer window without really needing to do any major business, and that’s exactly what happened. In the end, no stand-out first-team quality players were signed, and no key talent was let go.
That fairly boring nature of the last month reflects how ‘middle of the road’ this team is at the moment. We’re not under any immediate danger of relegation, or in with a clear chance of promotion, so additions weren’t critical. That’s not to mention that this squad had already been boosted heavily by summer recruitment, so in the end there was little for Reading to do in January.
Instead, we’re likely to see much more movement in the summer. Numerous contracts are due to expire, some loan deals could (or in Ovie Ejaria’s case will) be made permanent, and there’ll be more money to play with.
Nonetheless, there has been a reasonable amount of movement in the squad over the past few weeks that we’ll wrap up below. In total:
- Two signings (one permanent, one loan)
- Four permanent exits
- One cancelled loan
- Four loan exits
Reading were very active this time last year, bringing in five quality loanees that ultimately played a big part in keeping the team in the division. This year though, only two players came in through the door.
In the end, we had to wait until late on in the window to get them. Felipe Araruna arrived on a permanent deal from Brazilian side Sao Paulo on January 30, before Ayub Timbe sealed a loan move from sister club Beijing Renhe a few hours before the close of play on transfer deadline day.
Araruna is first and foremost a defensive midfielder, although he can also fill in on the right side of midfield or as a full back. Timbe on the other hand is a out-and-out pacey winger that loves to run at defenders. Neither position needed filling, but both players will be useful options in the coming months.
In each case, Reading haven’t really spent that much money. Neither will be on that big wages, and neither will have come in for a transfer fee. While Timbe is on loan, Araruna joined permanently on a free transfer on the proviso that his former club get 40% of any fee that Reading sell him for in the future.
Reading’s previously bullish stance on refusing to sell first-team players is well established (see Liam Moore in 2018, Yakou Meite in 2019), so losing anyone we really didn’t want to in January was always going to be unlikely. Either way, rumours of that happening never really took off, unless you count some rumblings that Leeds United wanted Andy Rinomhota or reported interest from Turkey in Tyler Blackett.
In the end, Josh Barrett was the most high-profile permanent departure from the Madejski Stadium. He joined Bristol Rovers on a permanent transfer after failing to force his way into Mark Bowen’s plans. Joao Virginia also went back to parent club Everton when his loan deal was cut short after failing to make the grade, and Teddy Howe left for Blackpool (permanently) on deadline day in search of regular first-team football.
Further down the pecking order, youngsters Jack Nolan (attacking midfielder) and Myles Roberts (goalkeeper) left for Walsall and Watford respectively. Neither had played for Reading’s first team, and seemingly fancied their chances of developing better elsewhere.
As for loan exits, there were only four. After appearing in a Reading first-team squad for the first time when named on the bench against Blackpool in the FA Cup, Luke Southwood agreed a new deal and returned to Hamilton Academical. Fellow academy graduate Ben House (who made his first-team debut in the next round of the cup against Cardiff City) went to Dagenham and Redbridge.
Of those loan players, only McNulty and Southwood are due to be on the club’s books next season - coincidentally, both are now in Scotland. The contracts of Mannone and House are currently due to expire in a few months’ time.