Following Veljko Paunovic’s dream start to his Royal reign, reports have emerged that Reading are set to land Sporting Lisbon’s 21-year-old ace: Pedro Mendes.
The Primeira Liga side have reportedly agreed to let Mendes join Reading on a loan-to-buy deal, after the Royals swooped in late to beat Spanish team Almeria to his signature. Here is a closer look at the sought-after frontman’s career to date, and what he can offer the new boss.
Pedro Mendes joined the Sporting CP academy from Moreirense for £270,000 in the summer of 2017, aged just 17. The Royals target started under manager Tiago Fernandes for the under-19 side, before being promoted to Sporting’s under-23s team, for whom he appeared twice for in the 2018/19 season, scoring on one occasion.
Last season the Portuguese centre forward was given a far greater role in the academy side, playing 21 times for Sporting under-23s, scoring 15 and assisting twice. He made a blistering start to the 2019/20 season, scoring seven goals in his first six games, but was unable to make the step up to be involved in the first half of Primeira Liga season as Sporting missed the registration deadline.
Mendes was only officially registered for Sporting’s league campaign at the halfway point of last season, in early January. The striker went on to make six substitute appearances for the first team, but never over 20 minutes; given the lack of opportunities, he ultimately failed to leave a mark.
On the international stage Mendes has featured twice at under-21 level for his country. However, his last appearance for his nation came almost a year ago. The target man also appeared six times in the Europa League last season, scoring on his debut in a 10-minute cameo away to Eredivisie side PSV.
The 21 year-old can play as a striker, including as a lone centre-forward. Last season he played mainly in a front two alongside partner Tiago Rodrigues who has struggled for goals, finding the net just three times in 30 games. Mendes finished the 2019/20 season as the league’s second top scorer, with Sporting’s under-23s achieving a third-placed finish.
Mendes would offer Reading further firepower up top, adding to the current strike force of Puscas, Joao and Meite. The 21 year-old is 6”2’ and evidently has an eye for the back of the net, shown by his impressive goal-to-game record in the under-23s Liga Revelacao.
Portuguese outlet A Bola have reported that the Royals’ offer is an initial loan offer with an option to buy at the end of the season; Mendes’ current contract runs until summer 2023.