Whack on Sky Sports News, load up Twitter and go hide in a bush. It’s transfer deadline day.
The transfer window will shut at 11pm tonight, bringing to an end a quite frankly bonkers few months in which Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have both moved clubs, Harry Kane has gone...errr...nowhere and incredibly Reading have not (yet) been linked with a move for Shane Long.
But plenty could, and probably will, happen throughout today, so let’s see where the Royals stand at the start of play.
What business have we done so far?
After a very slow start to the transfer window due to the EFL placing the club under a transfer embargo for breaching profit and sustainability rules, things have rapidly picked up over the last few weeks. Reading have been able to make signings but must get them approved by the EFL first, while they are limited to only bringing in free agents on one-year contracts in addition to loan deals.
Tom Dele-Bashiru was Reading’s first new arrival in 311 days when he signed on loan from Watford on August 12, while free agent Junior Hoilett, most recently of Cardiff City, followed him a week later.
The last few days are when it has really got interesting. Last Friday, we were treated to a double announcement as ex-Birmingham City man and free agent Alen Halilovic arrived to add some creativity to midfield, along with Chelsea loanee Baba Rahman who fills the gaping hole at left-back.
It was a case of ‘same again please barman’ yesterday as two experienced heads came through the door. 34-year-old Scott Dann, released by Crystal Palace this summer, was first in and then 31-year-old Danny Drinkwater, another on loan from Chelsea, became signing number six.
In terms of departures, we waved goodbye to two of the club’s most promising academy graduates in recent years, with Omar Richards sealing a dream move to Bayern Munich at the end of his Reading contract and Michael Olise joining Crystal Palace for the £8m release clause in his deal.
Sam Walker, Tennai Watson, Sone Aluko, Sam Baldock and Sam Smith left Berkshire at the end of their own contracts along with a host of academy players. Meanwhile, Jokull Andresson, Nahum Melvin-Lambert and Jeriel Dorsett have gone out on loan to gain further first team experience and Marc McNulty has joined Dundee United for the season to see out the final 12 months of his four-year Reading contract.
Could anyone come in today?
It’s all eyes on a striker before tonight’s deadline. Reading have done well to plug most of the gaps in the squad that needed filling and signing a centre forward would round things off very nicely indeed.
It wasn’t necessarily a position that was in urgent need of reinforcements at the start of the summer, but long-term injuries to Lucas Joao, Yakou Meite and now Femi Azeez have left Veljko Paunovic short of options upfront. George Puscas is hard-working but simply doesn’t fit the way the team play, while 17-year-old Jahmari Clarke has shown glimpses of potential but is not yet ready to be starting every week.
Over the last few days, rumours have linked CSKA Moscow’s Adolfo Gaich and Brighton’s Andi Zeqiri with a loan move to the Select Car Leasing Stadium, but both players have since secured temporary switches to Huesca and Augsburg respectively.
Reading are not to be deterred though, with Eddie Wallbank claiming that the club are working “very hard” to bring in a striker today. Be prepared for a signing to come completely out of the blue, much like the way the Junior Hoilett and Scott Dann deals have happened already.
Might anyone leave?
After Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Huddersfield Town, Veljko Paunovic said it was a “possibility” that players may leave before the deadline. Given the still precarious FFP situation, Reading do need to continue getting money into the club and if the right offer comes in for a player, they may find themselves needing to accept.
Yesterday’s arrivals of Dann and Drinkwater sparked rumours that perhaps an existing player in the pair’s positions - centre-back and centre midfield - could be on the way out. What’s more likely is that they have been signed to add squad depth rather than act as replacements.
That said, Drinkwater will be looking to take the starting spot of Andy Rinomhota or Josh Laurent, and the latter has been linked with a move away this summer. Nottingham Forest reportedly had a bid rejected for the 26-year-old at the start of this month, but their interest has appeared to cool since. A move to the City Ground would certainly seem sideways for Laurent, given Forest currently find themselves bottom of the Championship table, but if a Premier League club decides to make a late move (Brighton were linked in May), things could change quickly.
Not content on wanting to sign one Reading player, Forest have also been linked with Tom Holmes and reportedly submitted a £1.5m bid two weeks ago which the Royals rejected. Dann’s arrival in Berkshire might encourage Chris Hughton to try his luck again, but it seems unlikely that Paunovic will want to let go of a defender given that Tom McIntyre is out until January.
The only other player that has been subject to transfer rumours this summer is George Puscas, who is said to have been on the radar of newly-promoted Serie A side Salernitana after turning down a loan move to Turkey. Again, given Reading’s lack of options upfront, even if they do sign a striker today, makes this one seem a non-starter.
Finally, deadline day could present a number of youngsters with loan moves lower down the pyramid, with the likes of Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Kian Leavy and Mamadi Camara all in a position to experience regular senior football for the first time. Alternatively, Paunovic may want to keep them around to bolster his squad in case of even more injuries.