Reading have reinforced their midfield with the loan signing of Alfa Semedo. The 23-year-old Bissau-Guinean has joined from Portuguese side Benfica and will stay with the Royals for the duration of the 2020/21 campaign.
The Royals have been linked with Semedo for a few weeks now, but getting the deal over the line has been a drawn-out process. There was talk in the Portuguese media at the end of September that Reading were waiting on some kind of approval to seal the signing.
This deal could well be made permanent after the end of the season. A Bola says the Royals will have the option of signing Semedo for €6m, while Record claims that agreement becomes mandatory if we’re promoted to the Premier League.
Pauno said of the signing:
“I’m pleased we have been able to add a player of Alfa’s ability to our squad. He is strong, powerful, versatile, comfortable on the ball and full of energy - and I am looking forward to working with him on the training pitch.
"Importantly I am sure he will fit in well amongst this group of players and I am sure he will provide even more competition for places when we next take to the field after the international break.”
This isn’t Semedo’s first taste of English football. In fact, similar to Pele last season, he spent the previous campaign on loan at Nottingham Forest - playing 26 times in all competitions and scoring twice.
He’s spent much of the rest of his career at Benfica. Having been born in Guinea-Bissau, Semedo joined Os Encarnados’ youth system in 2014, but left on a permanent basis for fellow Portuguese side Moreirense in 2017, without having played for Benfica’s first team.
However, Semedo would only spend one season there before being bought back by Benfica. He played 16 times in all competitions in the 2018/19 season, including three matches in the Champions League - one of which featured him scoring a gorgeous winner in a 3-2 victory away to AEK Athens.
He’d then be sent out on loan in that same campaign to La Liga, where he’d get three games with Espanyol in a difficult spell. A temporary stint at the City Ground followed, and he seemed to struggle for consistency despite showing potential. Forest reportedly decided by May that they had no intention of keeping him beyond the end of 2019/20.
However, if Reading can get consistency out of Semedo, it looks like we’ve got a solid player on our hands. We’ve shown in recent years that we can get plenty out of loanees who’ve failed to make the grade in stints elsewhere; besides the obvious comparison with Pele, think of how well Lewis Baker and Ovie Ejaria did in 2018/19 after pulling up no trees at Leeds United and Rangers.
This addition also gives us valuable depth in the middle of the park. Reading needed an extra body to compete with Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent, and Semedo should do a good job of that. Plus, as someone who seems more defensively minded than those two - at least going by his WhoScored profile - he’ll offer something different.