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Reading Rumour Tracker: Summer 2021

We’re putting all summer 2021 Reading-related transfer rumours in one handy list.

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Reading v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

Every transfer window a lot of rumours fly around, and keeping track of them isn’t easy. So this summer we’ll be noting all the links surrounding players leaving or joining Reading Football Club, and adding some context in an attempt to weed out the more reliable news from the idle gossip.

Looking back on all the random links from the summer months makes for interesting/amusing reading later on. You can find our trackers for 2019 here and 2018 here. Whatever happened to that T. Pukki we were linked to a few years ago?

He could come in Andy

(ok maybe we’ve recycled that pun from Andi Zeqiri...)

Football Insider, August 31

Reading’s hunt for a striker on deadline day has produced a rumour that you need a minute or so to fully take in. That’s right, 32-year-old Andy Carroll could be heading to the Select Car Leasing Stadium. The former England international is a free agent after being released by Newcastle United this summer.

Of course as he is a free agent, Carroll doesn’t have to agree a deal before tonight’s 11pm deadline, but the report suggests that Reading are “hopeful” of getting it done today. Football Insider are the same outlet that first broke the news of Scott Dann’s arrival yesterday, so you would be silly to laugh this off as just agent talk.

Much like the signings of Dann and Drinkwater, this seems to be a calculated gamble from Reading. Carroll is another player who adds experience to a squad in need of it, and also suits the way the team play in the absence of Lucas Joao. But he would arrive with a patchy injury record and has scored just one league goal in 49 appearances of the last three seasons.

Looks like a Dann deal

Football Insider, August 30

While we’ve all been focusing on the possibility of a new midfielder and striker coming in, Reading are set to snap up a centre half. It’s veteran centre back Scott Dann, 34, who’s a free agent after being released by Crystal Palace. Football Insider claim Dann has already agreed a one-year deal.

It’s a deal that makes sense on a couple of fronts. Reading have badly lacked organisation at the back recently, so adding in Dann would be a logical thing to do. He’d also add depth, considering Tom McIntyre’s injury (three months or so) and the fact that Reading may need to use Tom Holmes at right back.

Always stay hydrated

ReadingFCExclusives, August 28

Another one from the same source, who’s been on fire of late. It was reported on Friday (August 27) that the Royals were looking at signing an experienced defensive midfielder. That target was revealed on the following morning as being Danny Drinkwater.

The only way you can see this happening is if the Royals pay a tiny fraction of Drinkwater’s wages. Otherwise though, a player whose career has gone poorly in recent years would likely be willing to drop down to the Championship for a year to turn things around.

It’s a potential signing that’s stoked plenty of debate on Twitter. On the one hand, getting even a decent amount out of a Premier League winner would be a huge boost for this team. He’s a good fit tactically for Reading’s double pivot and has an extra range of passing. On the other, concerns over his lack of game time in recent years and poor attitude suggest he’d be a big gamble.

He could come in Andi

ReadingFCExclusives, August 27

The Royals’ search for a new centre forward has reportedly taken them to the south coast. An offer (probably a loan but not specified) has apparently been put in for Brighton and Hove Albion striker Andi Zeqiri, a 22 year-old who moved to England from Swiss side Lausanne in 2020.

Given his scoring rate in Switzerland (28 in 94) and the fact that he was signed for a few million by a Premier League side last year, this would certainly be a high-profile addition. On the plus side the Seagulls might be willing to send him out on loan for regular game time, but if he’s really available, you’d think a better side (with more money to spend) would be able to get a deal over the line.

Baba Yeah-man

ReadingFCExclusives, August 26

So about Reading probably not signing Baba Rahman? Well, scratch that... it looks like he is coming after all. RFC Exclusives tweeted on Thursday evening that the left back is set for a medical with the Royals on Friday (August 27).

[Insert your own pun on this guy’s name]

Eddie Wallbank, August 26

With Lucas Joao out injured for the long term, Reading need a new striker, and that could end up being Adolfo Gaich. According to Eddie Wallbank, the Argentine striker has been monitored by the Royals throughout the summer, but his wage demands could be a problem. Matt Joy adds that other clubs including West Ham United also hold an interest.

Those last two points are problematic for Reading. Although we don’t have details, it’s believed that the club are heavily restricted in the wages they can offer, so it’s hard to see us outbidding other teams which don’t have those limits.

Reading go Al-en on Halilovic

ReadingFCExclusives, August 25

Al-en... all in... get it? OK not one of my better ones. But Reading are reportedly “on the brink” of making their third signing of the summer. This would be free-agent attacking player Alen Halilovic, most recently of Birmingham City, and comes after source ReadingFCExclusives originally noted Reading’s interest in the player on August 10.

Not Ghana happen (at least not like that), August 23

Chelsea defender Baba Rahman is hoping to move out on loan in the coming week and Reading need a left-back, so this link from the player’s home country is fairly welcome news - on the face of it. However, it is claimed the Royals have offered to cover his entire £50,000 weekly salary to get the deal done. That isn’t feasible on so many levels. Still, if Chelsea want to send him our way on the cheap then, by all means... Middlesbrough, PAOK, Reims and Olympiacos are also said to be in the running.

Yur... not the one

Interia Sport, August 22

Yuri Ribeiro will not be completing his rumoured move to Reading. The left-back is joining Legia Warsaw on a three-year deal having also been offered the chance to join Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes.

Searching high and Lowe for a left back

The Sun on Sunday (via The 72), August 22

According to The Sun (and written up by The 72), Reading are one of a few clubs interested in Sheffield United left back Max Lowe. The 24 year-old is reportedly surplus to requirements at Bramall Lane, and that’s also attracted the attention of Barnsley and Swansea City. As per this report, Reading are interested now, while the other two clubs may go in for Lowe if a current player leaves.

While this link makes sense (Reading really need a left back), we’ll need more info on the story to see if it’s got legs. Rumours mentioning a few clubs can be agent talk, name-dropping a couple of teams to make their client look more in demand. We’ll see.

Samuels to Monaco?

TeamTalk, August 20

According to TeamTalk, a number of clubs are interested in snapping up Imari Samuels, whose contract expires next summer. They list two clubs on the continent (Monaco and Lommel, a Belgium side that’s part of the ‘City Group’), in addition to a “host of Premier League clubs”.

It’s a remarkably similar story to one run on Michael Olise in March. In both cases, ‘European clubs interested in Reading young player, plus loads of unnamed ones in the Premier League’.

Considering that, in addition to the vagueness of the piece (“we understand that a host of Premier League clubs are also checking on him” is a sentence which doesn’t mean anything) and TeamTalk’s record for basic factual errors (see contract confusion in the Olise story), I’m strongly inclined to think this particular story has little to it.

There is very probably interest in Samuels from elsewhere, but take this specific report with a hefty pinch of salt. You can blame me (Simeon) if I’ve judged this one wrong and end up getting egg on my face.

Reading Nat the choice for Broadhead

The Athletic, August 16

After getting one loan deal last week, Reading are on the lookout for more, but it won’t be Nathan Broadhead. The 23-year-old Everton forward has reportedly turned down the Royals’ interest in favour of a season-long switch to League One outfit Sunderland. The Athletic say that this is because of the promise of regular football at the Stadium of Light.

Broadhead probably wouldn’t have been guaranteed that in Berkshire, but Reading could certainly do with another striker through the door before the window closes. A similar profile of player to the Welshman - a young Premier League academy graduate eager to gain more first team experience - would fit the bill.

Given Reading’s recent track record with Everton loanees, perhaps this isn’t such bad news...

Forest submit bid for new Holmes

FootyInsider/BerkshireLive, August 15

Two weeks ago we learnt of Nottingham Forest’s interest in Tom Holmes (scroll down for more), and now they have reportedly turned that interest into a bid. FootyInsider claim that £1.5million has been offered to Reading for the defender’s services, but Jonathan Low at BerkshireLive suggests that the figure is not as high as that.

After his breakthrough year in 2020-21, supporters would definitely be disappointed to see the academy graduate leave, particularly for that sort of money, but a reminder that Holmes is in the last year of his contract at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Yur the one for me

Reading Chronicle, August 12

It’s not even midday and we have already had two transfer rumours - are we sure this is the right club? Ah yes, of course it is, as the latest target is a former Benfica player who spent last season at Nottingham Forest. Like Pele and Alfa Semedo before him, Yuri Ribeiro is reportedly wanted by Reading.

The 24-year-old was released by Forest this summer after making 57 appearances across two seasons at the City Ground, so he would be a free transfer. More good news - he’s a left-back, so would fill that rather gaping hole in the Royals’ defence that has been vacant since Omar Richards’s departure to Bayern Munich.

Royals to Bash out a new signing

Sky Sports News, August 12

The day might finally have arrived. A new face looks set to be coming through the Select Car Leasing Stadium doors, with Sky Sports reporting that Watford midfielder Tom Dele-Bashiru is having a medical today after agreeing to join Reading on a season-long loan deal.

A product of Manchester City’s academy, the 21-year-old joined Watford in 2019 and looked set to be a key part of their promotion push last season. However, on his first start for the club, ironically against Reading, he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, which ended up ruling him out for the rest of the campaign.

The Nigeria Under-23 international is now back fit and Berkshire looks to be the place where he’ll get his first sustained run of senior football. He seems to be a box-to-box central midfielder, most comfortable pushing forward.

It is also promising that this appears to be a season-long loan deal, with it previously being suggested that Reading would only be able to sign players on six-month loan contracts due to their embargo status.

That’s more like it

ReadingFCExclusives/Eddie Wallbank, August 10

Exciting rumours surrounding players potentially joining Reading have been short this summer, but we got a flurry of them on Tuesday. RFC Exclusives shared the news that the Royals are targeting Louis Sibley, James Garner and Alen Halilovic, and this was later backed up by Eddie Wallbank. Both accounts have lengthy track records of releasing reliable Reading-related information.

Actually getting these deals over the line is another matter. Although we don’t know the details of what transfer business Reading can and can’t do (in terms of offerable wages and contract length), it’s safe to say that we don’t have a lot of pulling power in the transfer market.

So enticing three young, talented players like Sibley, Garner and Halilovic wouldn’t be easy. The first two are under contract (at Derby County and Manchester United respectively) so would probably be loan arrivals, while the latter is a free agent.

These three specific rumours follow a tweet from freelance journalist Courtney Friday, who said the Royals have made offers for three free agents.

Hopes of a Dun-deal

The Courier, August 5

According to Scottish paper The Courier, Marc McNulty is “on a longlist” of targets for Dundee United. The striker spent time there on loan last season and, should this story be true, is keen to go back. Given that Reading don’t want McNulty (whose deal expires next summer), you’d think a deal would be easy to facilitate if United submit a formal offer.

Daily Record, August 10

As of a few days later, Dundee were reportedly “close to a deal” for McNulty.

Forest table sizeable Laurent bid

Football Insider, August 4

After a report from The Athletic (covered below) that Nottingham Forest had seen a seven-figure bid rejected, the same club have apparently offered £2m-£3m. This comes from Football Insider who add that Reading can’t afford to offer a new contract.

Holmes under the hammer

Jonathan Low, August 3

We’re starting to suspect that Nottingham Forest’s transfer strategy is to simply buy all of Reading’s squad. After news (covered below) that the Reds are interested in Josh Laurent, it was later revealed by Jonathan Low from Berkshire Live that the Royals’ Championship rivals would also like to bring in Tom Holmes. He describes the situation like so:

“It is understood Forest are keeping tabs on Holmes’ situation and although no bid has been submitted, Chris Hughton’s side have expressed an interest in taking him to the City Ground. Several clubs abroad are also keeping a close eye on the player, who last signed a contract with Reading in February 2019.”

Holmes is, like Laurent, into the last year of his contract, leaving Reading in a tricky situation. You would think however that, having been a long-time Royal and academy graduate, Holmes would be keen to stick around if the right contract offer is put on the table.

Forest cut down

The Athletic, August 2

Reading have reportedly rejected a ‘seven-figure’ bid for Josh Laurent from Nottingham Forest. With Chris Hughton at the helm, the City Ground side may fancy a big push next season and the Royals’ 2020-21 Player of the Year would be a very decent statement signing.

Alas, Reading appear unwilling to roll over for Laurent despite him only having a year left on his contract. One would hope the club hold an extension clause in the two-year deal he signed 12 months ago. Rangers were linked with an £8m bid earlier in the summer.

Interest mounts in Puscas

Emanuel Rosu, July 26

A loan move to Turkey hasn’t gone through for Puscas, but he could well return to Italy. Salernitana, who earned promotion to the top flight last season, have reportedly had a bid rejected for Reading’s centre forward but will return with a bigger offer. This comes from Romanian journalist Emanuel Rosu.

It remains to be seen whether or not Salernitana would be able to come up with a fee big enough to tempt Reading into a sale. Despite Puscas being yet to properly get going in Berkshire, the Royals would surely want a good return on the £7m or so invested in 2019.

That said, Rosu’s report includes a few other interesting details.

“The 25-year-old striker is also in the spotlight of several clubs in England, but Reading is very attached to him. Puscas is fully recovered from the medical problems he has struggled with in the last year and is expected to hit the opposing gates in the new season.”

So, if Puscas doesn’t move to Salernitana he could go to another English side. However, Reading are “attached” to him and would get a much fitter Puscas this season than last.

On your Marcs, get set, go

Matt Joy, July 24

It looks like Marc McNulty might finally be off on loan (again). The former Coventry City man, who’s now into the last 12 months of his four-year contract at Reading, is someone that the Royals have found themselves constantly trying to get rid of in the last few seasons. That’s previously come with temporary stints at Hibernian, Sunderland, Hibernian again and Dundee United.

This time it could well be Tranmere Rovers. The Reading Chronicle’s Matt Joy reported at half-time during the Charlton Athletic pre-season friendly that Rovers are “frontrunners” to seal a season-long deal for McNulty. Such a transfer would cover the remainder of the striker’s time in Berkshire.

Should he stay put at the Mad Stad (it still feels weird to type the new name), he won’t be in Pauno’s plans.

Puscas turns down loan move

Jonathan Low, July 23

A bit of an odd one, this. Jonathan Low reported on Friday evening that striker George Puscas has rejected a loan move to Turkish side Kasimpasa. For me (Sim), this raises more questions than it answers: why did Puscas reject it, are Reading open or actively trying to loan him out, how serious was Kasimpasa’s interest, and so on.

With no real context to this information, it’s difficult to give a proper judgement. Speaking more generally though, Reading would likely cash in on Puscas if a significant bid were received, given that he’s yet to click into gear. Should he stay however, hopefully he can put a patchy first two years in England behind him.

Lazaar Quest

Eddie Wallbank, July 13

Another day, another trialist. Reading are now on their pre-season trip to Scotland, and we already knew as of yesterday (July 12) that a second player (the first being Kyle Edwards) had joined up with the squad in the hope of making a positive impression.

Naturally, when the club revealed an ‘Inside Training’ video, fans tried to spot this mysterious triallist. The eagle-eyed Kian on Twitter was the first to identify them as Achraf Lazaar, with the news later confirmed by Eddie Wallbank of The Reading Chronicle.

Lazaar, 29, is a left back who most recently played for Watford on a short-term deal that covered the second half of the 2020/21 season - a deal which has now expired. He had been at Newcastle United since 2016, playing a whopping four times and being loaned out to three clubs - Benevento, Sheffield Wednesday and Cosenza - before his contract was terminated in February.

On the plus side he’d fill a pressing need (left back, where we have no senior options) and do so without a transfer fee being required. On the downside, an underwhelming last five years of his career doesn’t inspire much confidence. He’s got an opportunity to prove himself to Pauno though, with the Chronicle saying he’s likely to feature in a match against Aberdeen on Friday.

Kyle on trial

Jonathan Low, July 11

Reading fans on Twitter were engaged in some detective work on Saturday afternoon: the club named a mystery ‘trialist’ in the starting XI for the friendly against Lincoln City. After a variety of speculation, the identity of this player was revealed by Jonathan Low to be Kyle Edwards. Hat tip to Sean on Twitter for working it out himself.

Edwards, 23, was released by West Bromwich Albion this summer. As with other recent linked players - Yannick Bolasie and Junior Hoilett - he’s a wide player, so that tentatively suggests Reading are focusing on that position at the moment.

He’d be a canny signing on a free transfer, offering Reading a short-term impact but with potential to kick on. That said, we’ll do well to get this one over the line, given that Celtic have reportedly been interested in a deal.

A winging transfer strategy

Jonathan Low, July 8

You wait ages for a transfer rumour and two come along at once. Jonathan Low from Berkshire Live says Reading are after a pair of free-agent wingers: Yannick Bolasie (32) and Junior Hoilett (31). The Royals have reportedly “tabled an offer” for the former and “expressed an interest” in the latter.

Both signings (it’s unclear if it’d be one or the other) tick a few boxes for Reading. They’re free and shouldn’t be on massive wages - so shouldn’t be blocked by the Royals’ soft transfer embargo, they play out wide and have plenty of experience at this level and higher. Both of those latter two traits would have come in handy for Reading last season.

So you could certainly see one or both of those deals happening. That isn’t to say that they will though: you’d imagine Reading would face competition from other Championship clubs, who are shopping in a similar market.

Michael Olise set to sign for Crystal Palace

The Secret Scout, July 6

Less a rumour, more a case of the news being broken ahead of confirmation. This first came from The Secret Scout but was soon picked up by other outlets including The Athletic and Berkshire Live. You can read a full write-up here:

Is this who you Mena?

Football Insider, June 9

The South American market isn’t one often entered by Reading, but Football Insider report that’s where the Royals are looking for a new right back. The defender in question is Esneyder Mena; Reading apparently “lead the chase” to bring the 23 year-old in on a free transfer from Deportivo Pasto, a top-flight Colombian club.

I know nothing about this chap, so can’t give any insight beyond the Insider report, which notes Mena being dubbed “the Trent Alexander-Arnold of Colombian football” due to his knack of getting assists (nine in 34). On the face of it though, a creative full back on a free transfer and for (probably) low wages would be the right call.

You were the chosen one, Aneke-n

Teamtalk, June 1

There’s apparently a race on for Chuks Aneke, and Reading are in it. According to Teamtalk, the Royals are one of half a dozen second-tier sides in for a forward that scored 15 times for Charlton Athletic last season. A transfer wouldn’t require a fee: this report adds that Aneke has turned down the Addicks’ offer of a new deal.

Then again, perhaps not. The South London Press confirm interest from other clubs in Aneke, but counter the idea that he’s rejected a new deal.

Michael O-Lille-se

Teamtalk, May 30

Michael Olise is bound to feature in this tracker an awful lot this summer, and kicking us off is reported interest from Lille. Teamtalk claim the 2020/21 Ligue 1 winners are “very firmly in the chase” for Olise, who would be a replacement for Jonathan Ikone. They also mention as suitors Bayern Munich, Leeds United, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Interest in Olise from Europe’s elite is certain, but Teamtalk’s reporting on this topic isn’t so reliable. They previously ran an ‘exclusive’ on Olise being out of contract this summer and informing Reading he wouldn’t be signing a new one.

Remember: he’s out of contract next summer.

Blackburn Rovers v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Neil Taylor on a free, anyone?

Darren Witcoop, May 28

Reading are in need of a first-choice left back this summer, and that could well be Neil Taylor. According to Reach’s Darren Witcoop, the Royals are - like QPR and Nottingham Forest - in for the Welshman on a potential free transfer.

Such a move would make some sense: Taylor is a good fit as an established, experienced option. But links such as these - ‘X player out of contract being of interest to a few clubs’ - are likely to be the agent drumming up interest in their client. Wait for more detailed info before getting your hopes up on this one.

Royals back in for Semedo

Abola/Record (via Sport Witness), May 28

We could be about to see a lot more of Alfa Semedo. According to a couple of reports from Portugal (summed up in English by Sport Witness), Semedo “has a ‘good chance’ of continuing in England after leaving a ‘good impression’ at Reading”, who are after another loan. Although the Royals have no purchase option in the 2020/21 deal, parent club Benfica would prefer to cash in on Semedo than send him off on loan again.

I can certainly believe that Pauno likes the look of Semedo, given how often he picked him. The towering midfielder only missed three matches after signing, in each case being named on the bench but not entering the field of play. So from the manager’s point of view another loan deal for a dependable - and in his eyes versatile - midfielder makes sense.

When we asked for your thoughts on Twitter here, the majority view was that Reading shouldn’t bring Semedo back. Matt and Alex made some good points in the replies:

Jokull off to the Prem?

Devon Live, May 16

Exeter City are naturally very keen to keep hold of Jokull Andresson after an impressive loan spell, but Premier League interest could spoil that. Grecians boss Matt Taylor said:

“I know that there has been Premier League teams looking at him, so they could be buying from Reading, let alone him coming back to League Two. If he goes back out on loan, then would he go to the Championship or League One?”

With just one year left on his deal at the Mad Stad, Reading need to make a decision on Andresson’s future. A new contract would be a wise choice, but if the youngster has his mind set on a move elsewhere, cashing in may be the only option.