Reading have their first signing of the January 2023 window and their 14th of the season overall. Say hello to Cesare Casadei, a 20-year-old Italian midfielder who’s joined on loan from Chelsea until the end of the season. The Royals don’t have an option to buy him outright included in the deal.
The story of Reading’s move for Casadei evolved rapidly. After no prior links or rumours, it was reported by the Daily Mail on the morning of Saturday January 28 that a deal was done. Jonathan Low from Berkshire Live reported on Monday that the move was dependent on the Royals getting approval from the EFL for Dejan Tetek - who’s set to miss the rest of the season through injury - to be removed from the 25-man squad. That approval has apparently been granted, although there’s no official confirmation.
Casadei is Reading’s sixth loan signing of the season alongside Joe Lumley, Baba Rahman (also from Chelsea) and fellow midfielders Jeff Hendrick, Mamadou Loum and Tyrese Fornah. The Royals will have to omit one of those six from each matchday squad, as per the rules.
Paul Ince told the official site:
“Our midfield resources have been stretched all season and Casadei will bring us another option in the middle of the park. He is comfortable on the ball, powerful in possession and he looks like an intelligent player with the vision to read the game well. I am looking forward to working with Cesare on the training pitch this week.”
While Mark Bowen added:
“I am very pleased that we have been able to secure the services of a dynamic young player with energy, enthusiasm, ability and a lot of potential. This is a loan move that will benefit both the club and the player and I’m sure Cesare will hit the ground running and play an important role in the remaining 18 games of the campaign.”
It’s quite the coup to land Casadei, who’s a very highly rated young talent, although he’s unproven at senior level. Having spent his early years at Cervia and then Cesena, he later came through at Inter Milan, where he starred in I Nerazzurri’s youth sides and became a key player in their Primavera (under-19) team.
Last season (his final one in Italy) was an outstanding campaign for Casadei, who hit 14 goals in 30 league appearances before winning the Primavera youth division player of the season award. His overall Primavera league record stands at 23 goals in 60 games.
Casadei has featured in numerous Italy youth sides (under-16 through under-21) and was included in a senior-level training camp last December. And he’s been turning heads for a few years now: The Guardian included him on their ‘Next Generation 2020: 60 of the best young talents in world football’ list.
It’s little surprise that Chelsea, who’ve been on a spree under Todd Boehly of snapping up young talent, forked out a reported £12.6m (excluding add-ons) to snap him up, handing him a six-year contract. According to The Athletic they considered loaning Casadei out last summer, but opted instead to let him get settled in before finding a loan destination in the January window.
In the meantime, Casadei has continued his fine goal-scoring form in England. He’s racked up five goals in just 13 appearances - four of them in the Premier League 2, one in the EFL Trophy.
Casadei scored on his Inter Milan under-19 debut (away to Sampdoria) and his UEFA Youth League debut (against Rennes) - both times as a substitute - so he’s got a record to keep up when he makes his Reading bow. No pressure Cesare, and welcome to Berkshire!