The big question around Ovie Ejaria and his Reading FC career is currently ‘Will he stay or will he go?’ following Mark Bowen’s doubt over his permanent deal.
But I’m more interested in this question: is he Glen Little or Nick Blackman?
Glen Little spent time on loan at the Mad Stad in 2002/03 and was rather decent, convincing the club to sign him permanently a year later. The tricky winger, a fascinating dribbler of the ball with entertainment value and production to boot was a huge success in a legendary side.
Nick Blackman had six months that suggested he was a Premier League forward in the making. He devastated Championship defences with a newfound confidence in a Reading side that looked good for a promotion charge. But, this came amid a lot of tepid football and he was sold for £3million to do very little at Derby.
Ovie Ejaria will be one of these players - but we do not know which.
In January, Reading signing the midfielder from Liverpool for the much-touted £3m fee was a no-brainer. Even now, in our pandemic world, his signing is a very good idea. But there are doubts.
Not since November has the 22-year-old actually scored a goal and his impact on the team has noticeably dropped off. Mark Bowen has kept him in the team at all costs, moving him around the midfield to see what fits. Nothing really has and the early season spectacle of Ejaria toying with opponents thanks to his luscious skills are becoming a distant memory.
Reading boss Bowen told reporters on Wednesday: “I’m not sure whether the club will turn his deal into a permanent one because of financial restrictions.”
This may not be too much of an issue. Ejaria is still, in my opinion, likely to sign. Bowen could be turning the pressure on his own club, the midfielder and his representatives, or just calming fan expectation.
The £3m deal with Liverpool may or may not be an obligation for Reading but there is talk of wages being an issue. If personal terms have not been rubber-stamped, Ejaria may well reject what the club put before him. Likewise, a rival bidder may still be able to gazump the Royals.
Is it worth selling to make room for Ejaria? I certainly see no reason to have all three of the Liverpool loanee, John Swift and Michael Olise. They simply cannot play together. Selling Swift to Sheffield United appears to be an option but negotiations are reportedly ongoing and Reading should not except a low fee.
Bowen has said that around ten players could leave with plenty released but fans should not expect many of those pinched pennies to be reinvested in the side. There is even the question of whether a central playmaker is actually the best area for the club to reinvest.
It is true that Ejaria has a huge amount of potential and has shown more than a few glimpses of his talents... but so did Nick Blackman. While we all want him to stay, we may well have to start looking for life outside of Ovie’s world.