Reading have secured the services of another out-of-contract player, agreeing terms with Amadou Mbengue. The 21-year-old had been set to become a free agent at midnight tonight (Friday January 13) but will now stay on until the end of the season. The club’s statement confirmed that the deal was “with a view to then extending those terms beyond the conclusion of the current campaign”.
This comes on the back of Andy Carroll signing an 18-month deal earlier this week. Like Mbengue, Carroll had been on a short-term agreement that expired this month. Retaining both players means Reading are at their maximum complement of 25 players for the squad, as decreed by the EFL’s business plan to which the club must adhere this season.
Paul Ince told the club:
“Amadou arrived here as a young man, coming to another country without speaking much of the language, and yet he fit in immediately. As a player, he is versatile, he’s got pace, tenacity and a hunger to be the best he can be. As a person, he’s hard not to love; he’s always got a smile on his face, he enjoys coming into training and the culture we are creating here. I’m delighted he has agreed to stay with us.”
While head of football operations Mark Bowen added:
“Amadou has been such a valuable addition to our squad this season and has impressed whenever he has been called upon. He has shown himself to be very capable of playing at this level and he is a player upon whom the manager knows he can rely.
“I’m delighted we have been able to sign him up and, in the discussions I have personally had with the player over the last few weeks, he has shown he is ready to commit the next few years of his career to this club. I am sure he will have an important part to play in the second half of this season and I’m very pleased to get the deal over the line.”
We're delighted to say that #AmadouStays!— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) January 13, 2023
Amadou Mbengue has penned a new deal with the Royals
It’s no surprise to see Mbengue stay on as Paul Ince had teased that a deal was imminent on Thursday. The intriguing thing however is the length of the player’s contract: Mbengue is very much a player with long-term potential, so in normal circumstances you’d have expected to see Reading go for a multi-year deal.
Going by how the club’s statement has been written and what Bowen himself said (Mbengue being “ready to commit the next few years of his career to this club”), clearly a longer-term deal is on the cards. It could be that, for the time being, Reading aren’t in a position to offer a financially competitive extended contract and will therefore instead revisit the issue in the summer when Mbengue has completed his first full(ish) season at the club.
Encouragingly, Mbengue seems well settled at Reading, as Ince and Bowen made clear in their comments. Although there was apparently interest from other clubs (according to Ince), as things stand it would appear that the Royals are in a strong position to retain Mbengue’s services beyond the summer.
That’ll be a big boost on the pitch. Mbengue has proven his quality and versatility thus far, impressing as a right-wing-back, on both sides of a back three and in a pairing as part of a back four. Given that he’s still an inexperienced player, it’s exciting to see how he could develop in the future.
For Mbengue’s sake though, it would be better if that development came in one spot rather than several. Versatility is a great trait to have, but Mbengue will get to a higher standard if Reading can pick out one position and allow him to focus on it.
Regardless, it’s great to see him sign on for the rest of the season, and hopefully he’ll still be here next season. Congrats and félicitations, Amadou.