Throughout the whole of last season, as we consistently watched Ovie Ejaria bamboozle near enough every Championship defender he faced, we sat in the stands safe in the knowledge that, come the end of the season, the Liverpool loanee would become one of our own on a permanent basis.
But then, Bowen turned all of that upside down on the last day of the season. During his post-match interview after the 4-1 loss to Swansea City, Bowen said it was unlikely the club still had the financial power to pay the previously agreed £3.5 million due to the damaging effects of the coronavirus pandemic. After what was an shambolic end to the season, this news just rubbed salt into our already gaping wounds.
Since then it’s been a pretty depressing few weeks. With every passing day its been getting more and more unlikely that we’d ever see the midfield magician in the Royal blue and white hoops ever again.
Add that to what has been a very difficult period financially for the club and the last month or so has been pretty dull for the average Reading fan. But I guess, we’re all more than used to be it being dull at this point aren’t we?
But, as you will all know by now, the long tortuous wait is over. It’s over because Ovie Ejaria has now put pen to paper on a four-year deal at the Mad Stad - he’s here, and he’s here to stay. How good does that sound?
How this has actually happened all of a sudden is for a different piece, and I know you will all have your opinions on how Dai Yongge has gone about his business over the last few days, but this article is about Ovie, and Ovie only. Because, surely, we can all agree that this is a good thing for the club?
The 22 year old can, and will, only keep getting better and better. We have all seen the abundance of raw, natural talent the lad has, but time and time again last season his end product continued to frustrate all of us. You can have all the talent in the world, but you can’t do it all on your own. On too many occasions last season Ovie would effortlessly drift past three or four defenders before hitting the first man with a cross, or running down a dead end.
With his future now all wrapped up and confirmed, hopefully he can focus on nurturing those final touches and his ability to pick the right pass at the right time. If he does that, which I have every confidence he will, we have one hell of a player on our hands. We will have a player who can turn defence into attack with one touch of the ball, a player who can breeze through defences as if he’s not there, and a player who can turn those successful dribbles into goals and assists. And those kinds of players, ladies and gentlemen, are the kinds of players that win you football matches.
Not only does this transfer do the world of good to our chances on the football pitch, it’s also an absolute bargain and a savvy bit of business off the pitch. £3.5million for Ejaria even at this stage of his career is a robbery, and over the next 12-24 months his market value will only sky-rocket as he continues to develop.
This means that if we do end up in a position where we need to sell, we should be able to make a seriously healthy profit on him. Hopefully, though, we will only end up in a position like that if Dai’s ‘master plan’ fails to pay off - but, like I said, that’s for another piece.
I don't even want to think about the day we may have to sell Ejaria at this point though, I’m just going to enjoy him whilst we’ve got him. It’s not often that, as Reading fans, we get to see a player with this much talent play on a weekly basis, so let’s just soak it all up as much as we can.
I know the atmosphere around the fanbase at the moment isn’t the most harmonious (let’s be honest, when is it ever?) but hopefully we can all reside in happiness at the fact that Ejaria is now a Reading player. We get to watch him play week in week out for not just the next season, but the next four years.
He's already a ridiculously gifted player. But, more importantly, he can become a match winner for us. Match winners win games. Winning games gets you climbing the table. That’s something worth being optimistic about, right?