We’re back with another Reading FC rumour tracker, this time for the January 2022 window. All this month, we’ll be collating the variety of gossip relating to potential signings and exits so you can keep an eye on what may or may not happen. There’s always plenty of faff and idle gossip around any transfer window, so we’ll try to filter out the noise and provide some context.
You can recap the summer 2021 window with our previous edition of the rumour tracker.
Cruz-ing back to Brazil
January 12, Itatiaia
It looks like Rafael Cabral’s time in Reading is coming to an end. He’s been linked with a free exit since late December, and accordingly, Brazilian outlet Itatiaia think that’ll open up a move to Cruzeiro. They say the Belo Horizonte-based side have been in negotiations to sign the ‘keeper, whose errors led to Reading being dumped out of the FA Cup by Kidderminster Harriers, for a few days.
It’s not a complete surprise, given Reading’s need to trim the wage bill. Getting Rafael off the books may allow for more financial wiggle room this season ahead of the wage bill being trimmed by another £5m next season - under the terms of the business plan with the EFL.
Replacing him may be Jokull Andresson or James Holden. They’ve been on loan this season but were recently recalled, suggesting one could be promoted to Luke Southwood’s understudy.
Goalkeepers Jokull Andresson and James Holden have been recalled by #readingfc.— The Tilehurst End (@TheTilehurstEnd) January 10, 2022
The former, currently on international duty with Iceland, returns from Morecambe. The latter returns from Maidenhead. pic.twitter.com/ru8VYODDBn
Interest in Palmer, but just in Kase
January 5, Gregor MacGregor
Reading appear to have identified a replacement for John Swift if he leaves this month: Bristol City’s Kasey Palmer. This comes from Gregor MacGregor, a freelance sports journo formerly of Bristol Live. He reports that while QPR are the likeliest destination for Palmer, Reading have “a minor interest, but only in the event that John Swift leaves this month, something not anticipated at the Royals”.
Palmer’s certainly a familiar face at Championship level. While being on the books at Chelsea (whose academy he graduated from), he had loan spells with Huddersfield Town, Derby County, Blackburn Rovers and Bristol City. His time in the south west has also included a temporary stint at Swansea City.
While he’s not up to Swift’s standards, he’d still be a solid enough replacement. But going by the details of the report, a move isn’t likely this month.
Holmes’ where Forest’s heart is
January 2, Berkshire Live
Tom Holmes to the City Ground appears to be the new ‘this will come up every window’ rumour. After Nottingham Forest submitted multiple bids for the defender last summer, they’re in for him again, according to Berkshire Live:
“BerkshireLive understands Reading have rejected two bids from Forest, with the second believed to be in the region of £750,000. As well as Forest, it is understood at least one European club is also keeping tabs on Holmes ahead of a potential move in the January window.”
Forest’s reported interest makes sense - Holmes is a young, versatile, progressive defender with a bit of Championship experience under his belt but still with plenty of potential for the future. With only a few months left on his contract, in theory he wouldn’t be expensive.
But Reading are apparently keen to keep hold of him - quite right too for the reasons listed above. Holmes is a likely first-team player next season and may one day be captain. You’d also think he’d be happy to agree a new contract if reasonable terms can be agreed on, so as things stand he’s likely to stay.
Further, from Forest reporter Paul Taylor at The Athletic:
Game off tomorrow, as injuries as much as covid take a toll.— Paul Taylor (@nottmtails) January 2, 2022
But understand reports of #NFFC interest in Tom Holmes are correct. More than one bid made. But Reading don’t want to sell. Doesn’t seem very likely to happen in January.
He’s out of contract in summer.
A Brand’ new left back?
December 31, Eddie Wallbank
While most of the links so far have been surrounding players leaving Reading (this will probably continue to be the case), one name has popped up as a potential signing. It’s Brandon Mason, a left back who’s currently a free agent after being released by Coventry City in the summer. This comes from Reading insider Eddie Wallbank, who says the 24 year-old has been taken on trial.
Reading do have a shortage of left backs at the moment: Baba Rahman (soon off to the Africa Cup of Nations) is the only senior specialist.
Tom McIntyre can play there if needed but has been injured, Ethan Bristow is the most obvious current deputy but was dropped after some shaky performances early on this season. Young left backs Imari Samuels (yet to play for the first team) and Nelson Abbey (who started in this position in the League Cup against Swansea City) have both had injury trouble; the former had surgery in November.
So a back-up signing would make sense. Mason would likely be a cheap, short-term and relatively low-risk option until the summer - nothing too exciting but probably as good as Reading can get amid financial constraints.
Further: Mason being on trial was later confirmed by Paunovic.
A Serie(s) of interest in Puscas
December 23, fanatik_ro and December 31, TuttoMercatoWeb
Whenever George Puscas is linked with an exit, it’s typically with an Italian side. Last summer that was Serie A side Salernitana, now it’s Cagliari (Serie A) and Lecce (Serie B). Side note: Puscas has also been linked with a couple of Romanian sides but that appears to be self-propelled speculation as Sim noted in a few tweets here.
The Cagliari link comes from Romanian outlet Fanatik, which ran an exclusive on the Serie A strugglers submitting a loan (with option to buy) move for Puscas. The Lecce story is via Tutto Mercato Web (not the most reliable of sources), which claims the Serie B team are simply monitoring the striker at the moment.
While these links could well have something to them, it’s worth remembering we hear a lot of these stories about Puscas each transfer window. Plus, even if there is solid interest from Italian sides, them being able to come up with a financially tempting offer for a player that cost Reading north of £7m is easier said than done. One to watch but wait for something more concrete.
Rafael and Felipe doing a ‘Runa
December 28, Giovane Martineli
If Reading are do any significant recruitment this month, it’s likely to necessitate exits first. The Royals have little financial wiggle room, so freeing up part of the budget would come in handy. That could well include Rafael Cabral and Felipe Araruna, who’ve apparently been told they can leave Reading.
This comes from Giovane Martineli on Twitter. He writes for Diário do Peixe (@diariodopeixe), which describes itself as “the most complete content platform for Santos FC fans”. Santos is where Rafael started out his career.
O que vocês acham do Felipe Araruna?— Giovane Martineli (@GioMartineli) December 28, 2021
Assim como o Rafael Cabral, pode sair do Reading.
There’s no indication as to where Rafael and Araruna may head to, or even how likely it is that they’ll leave this month.
While we can’t speak to the reliability of the source, the rumour makes sense and chimes with what’s previously been speculated/assumed about those two players’ futures. Both are, as things stand, probably surplus to requirements and are in any case out of contract in the summer. Reading would however need to get replacements in should they depart in January.
John’s exit won’t come Swiftly
December 28, Leeds Live
John Swift’s future looks pretty inevitable at the moment: he very probably won’t be a Reading player next season. He’s the club’s stand-out performer, has been in excellent form this season, is probably on lofty wages and is out of contract in the summer. A new deal, with the Royals under financial constraints from the EFL, isn’t likely.
But the same is probably true of an exit this month. According to Leeds Live (United have been constantly linked with Swift during the Marcelo Bielsa era), Swift will stay put until the summer as only an “extraordinary amount of money” would tempt Reading’s hand in January. They continue:
“Three top-flight outfits have shown keen interest in Swift, but Leeds are not understood to be one of them at this point. There is serious interest in Saudi Arabia and Turkey for the Championship starlet too, but sources close to the player are not anticipating a move until the summer as it stands.”
Add into the mix Swift’s reported personal stance of not wanting to leave in January, and you’re left with the same conclusion.