Reading’s long search for a new left back is over, with the signing of Baba Rahman. The 27-year-old defender has joined on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea ahead of his contract with the Premier League side expiring next summer.
It’s quite the coup for Reading, considering how high-profile Rahman is. Formerly of German clubs Greuther Fürth and FC Augsburg, Ghana international Rahman has spent the last six years at Stamford Bridge. Although he never became a key first-team player for Chelsea over an extended period, he’s had loan spells at a decent level: Schalke (x2), Reims, Mallorca and PAOK.
Pauno told the club’s site:
“It is no secret that recruiting an experienced left-back was a priority for us this summer, so I am delighted that we have managed to do this deal to bring Baba to Reading. He is a quick, strong, physical footballer who has a lot to offer to the club and the players around him. Baba was really keen to be part of our project and to test himself in this tough division and I am excited to see him playing for us.”
News of a potential move first came from Ghana Web on August 21. They reported that Rahman would be choosing between Reading and a number of other suitors: PAOK, Reims, Olympiakos and Middlesbrough. However, suggestions that the Royals would cover all of Rahman’s £50k-per-week wages are surely well wide of the mark.
Because of that, we’d assumed the rumour was a non-starter. However, the story kicked into life on Thursday evening when it was revealed that Rahman was set for a medical on the Friday. Local and then national media later picked it up, with Greek Super League reporter Konstantinos Lianos giving the following context:
I can confirm that my esteemed colleague Ryan Taylor is right.— Konstantinos (Kostas) Lianos (@LianosKostas) August 27, 2021
PAOK really wanted to have Chelsea's Baba Rahman back this season.
However, Baba preferred a more competitive league and thus the Greeks left the race and turned their attention to Slavia Prague's Jan Boril #ReadingFC https://t.co/joiBjtH1cB
Tactically, Reading are getting a forward-thinking left back. Rahman said of his game in 2015:
“I’m a left-back and, as a defender, it’s important for me to be strong in the tackle, which I always try to be.
“I also like to get forward as much as possible and help the team in attack. In the Premier League there is a heavy emphasis on getting up and down the pitch, which I like to do. It’s very important because, obviously, if you can provide crosses from out wide there is a higher chance of providing assists and chances for the team.”
He went so far as to say that his style was too attacking for former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte - albeit a manager known for a more defensive brand of football. That difference in style apparently prompted him moving to Schalke.
Although Reading do need to tighten up defensively, getting that attacking threat from Rahman will be a big boost. Whoever plays ahead of the left back on the wing - probably in Pauno’s favoured 4-2-3-1 is likely to be someone that cuts inside, so the potential of an overlap will come in handy.