Reading have confirmed that five out-of-contract players have been released, while Gabriel Osho has been offered a new deal. Those leaving are Chris Gunter, Garath McCleary, Tyler Blackett, Jordan Obita and Charlie Adam. This news isn’t too surprising, not least because Obita and Adam had already confirmed their exits.
Nonetheless, it is a big development for the club financially. The departing five will all have presumably been on pretty significant pay, and with the club’s wage bill unsustainably large, Reading have been able to improve that situation by letting those players go.
This comes on the back of departures for Danny Loader, Adrian Popa and Vito Mannone, who were all out of contract but hadn’t - unlike the six in question here - signed deals to extend their stays at Reading until the end of the 2019/20 season. Put it all together and Reading are losing a fair few players and cutting the wage bill substantially, but now need to bring in replacements.
Although all five have been involved to a decent extent this season, none have been first-team regulars throughout the campaign. Gunter has featured the most in the league with 1577 minutes, followed by Blackett (1386), Obita (1351), Adam (778) and McCleary (467).
Therefore, although all are experienced, committed pros, Reading aren’t losing players that had been integral to the side under Mark Bowen in the 2019/20 season. Allowing them to move on gives the club the opportunity to change the “philosophy” of the squad, as Bowen put it after the Swansea City defeat on Wednesday night.
With the exception of Adam, who joined Reading on a one-year deal last summer, we are however talking about players who’ve been at the club for quite some time. Obita ends an 18-year association with the club after working his way through the academy, while Gunter and McCleary have been long-term servants after joining all the way back in 2012. Blackett on the other hand has racked up 121 appearances since joining from Manchester United in 2016.
Osho is a cheaper option to keep on, should he agree to an extension, and has the long-term potential to develop nicely at the Madejski Stadium. He made his first-team debut in late 2018 under temporary manager Scott Marshall, and had appeared to be on his way out earlier this season when he went on trial with Ipswich Town at one point.
However, he’s since bounced back. Osho scored a penalty in the FA Cup shootout win at Cardiff City, and took the opportunity of a run in the first team after lockdown to show what he can do at right back. Hopefully the club can come to an agreement to keep Osho at the club beyond this summer.
We wish the very best to Chris Gunter, Garath McCleary, Jordan Obita, Tyler Blackett and Charlie Adam, wherever the next steps in their careers take them.