George Puscas has completed a move away from Reading and joined Italian second-tier side Pisa on loan until the end of the season. The striker’s future has been subject to intense speculation this month, but even this morning it looked as if he would be sticking around in Berkshire.
However, a deal has now been done and the majority of fans are unlikely to be disappointed to see the back of a player who has largely underwhelmed since signing on a five-year deal from Inter Milan for a club record fee in the summer of 2019. There was significant hype around his arrival, but he has not lived up to it.
According to Romanian journalist Emanuel Roşu, Pisa will have an obligation to buy Puscas for €5m (approximately £4.2m) in the summer if they win promotion to Serie A. Reading will also have receive 20% of any future sale. There’s no word on how the striker’s wages will be divided between the two clubs for the rest of the season.
The top two teams in Serie B are promoted automatically and Pisa are currently second in the table, a point behind leaders Lecce. But they are also just a point ahead of third-place Brescia. Third and fourth place at the end of the season qualify for the playoff semi-finals and those in fifth to eighth position qualify for the preliminary playoffs.
Puscas departs Reading (for now, at least) having made 91 appearances in all competitions, scoring 20 goals - that’s a rate of one goal every 4.55 games, which ultimately just isn’t good enough.
The 25-year-old showed plenty of promise in his first few months at the club, scoring on his first start against Wycombe in the League Cup, bagging a sensational brace on his home debut against Cardiff and netting a remarkable five-minute hattrick against Wigan. But the fact that nearly a third of his Reading goals came in those three games alone tells its own story.
When Puscas scored in the 4-3 defeat against Huddersfield earlier this month, it was his first league goal in 28 league games since April 2021. The only other time he found the net in that period was against Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Cup.
All of this said, it is fair to argue that the Romanian was the victim of Reading’s tactical system simply not suiting him on many occasions. He proved that he was far better off playing in a front two, but was mostly deployed as a lone frontman.
Puscas’s effort and enthusiasm could also never be denied, and his tale of breaking into Reading’s closed training ground during lockdown in 2020 was a particularly entertaining one.
If Pisa do get promoted and the striker leaves permanently, £4.2million isn’t a bad fee to receive for a player woefully out of form. Although it’s not a patch on £7.5million that Reading paid for him in the first place that they will still be paying off after Puscas has gone.
As for where his departure leaves the Royals, the answer is pretty light upfront. With Andy Carroll also exiting this month, Veljko Paunovic’s only senior central striker option is Lucas Joao, who has only just returned from a long-term injury.
18-year-old Jahmari Clarke has made 12 substitute appearances this season and Yakou Meite could be an option when he returns from the sidelines, but it’s hardly a convincing strike force to be going into a relegation battle with.
All we can hope is that the club have been preparing for Puscas’s exit and have a replacement lined up in the final hours of the transfer window. Then again, knowing Reading, they almost certainly haven’t...
Good luck, George!