Reading have another signing: welcome to Berkshire, Scott Dann. The veteran centre half joins on a free transfer, having been released by Crystal Palace this summer, agreeing a one-year deal.
It’s not an addition that had been widely anticipated before today, when news broke of the move. Our attention had been fixed on the possibility of signing a central midfielder and/or striker in the closing hours of the summer transfer market. However, it’s hard to miss the appeal of adding Dann to Reading’s defensive options.
The Royals have shipped the highest number of goals in the top four divisions of English football this season, including the particularly embarrassing 4-0 rout at Huddersfield Town on Saturday. Organisation and leadership (particularly in relation to set pieces) have been in short supply at the back recently, so making this signing is a logical fix.
“Scott will play a crucial part in helping us keep clean sheets and win football matches. A natural leader, Scott will be another important cog in the first team machine we are trying to construct.”
Dann, 34, is a veteran of English football, with plenty of experience at Premier League level. He’s so far racked up 241 games in the top tier (two thirds of which with Crystal Palace), in addition to more than 100 in the Championship via spells at Blackburn Rovers and Coventry City. That’s a level of know-how few in Reading’s squad possess, with fellow centre half Michael Morrison (33 years old, 391 Championship appearances) the obvious parallel.
He’ll also be a useful extra body to a defensive unit that, despite looking well stocked, isn’t that far from an injury crisis. Tom McIntyre being ruled out for a few months meant Veljko Paunovic had to select rookies Lynford Sackey and Michael Stickland on the bench at Huddersfield (in addition to the slightly more experienced Ethan Bristow).
Although Baba Rahman and Felipe Araruna should come into the fold after the international break, we’re otherwise relying on Morrison, Moore, Yiadom and Holmes. The first three of those players missed decent chunks of last season through injury, while the last had a hamstring injury at one stage too.
So is Dann just a back-up or something more? Well, he hasn’t been a regular fixture at Palace in recent years, which suggests he won’t be relied on to play most weeks. Since playing 35 times in the 2015/16 Premier League campaign, he’s made an average of around 16 league appearances per season across the subsequent half decade.
I doubt he’ll want to sit on the bench though; Dann will be eager to compete for a spot in the first team. That competition from an experienced pro could be the kick that Reading’s defence needs.