The end-of-season contract verdicts are in and Reading FC have announced the offer of new deals to both Yakou Meite and Junior Hoilett.
The Royals are also bidding to keep Amadou Mbengue for another two seasons along with a three-year offer for young goalkeeper Coniah Boyce-Clarke, all of which must now be agreed on or rejected by the players in question.
One player certainly staying for League One is Nesta Guinness-Walker, whose option for an automatic 12-month extension has been taken up by the club.
Among those released, Lucas Joao is the headline name but not one that was expected to stay, unlike goalkeeper Luke Southwood who departs despite a year of League One experience under his belt at Cheltenham. It’s not clear if the club decided to part ways with the academy product to focus on the likes of Boyce-Clarke, or if he rejected staying out of hand to continue his career elsewhere.
Scott Dann, Shane Long, Liam Moore and Dejan Tetek are also leaving on free transfers. Loanees Jeff Hendrick, Mamadou Loum, Joe Lumley, Baba Rahman, Tyrese Fornah and Cesare Casadei have also left the club.
The Under-21 players leaving are Lui Bradbury, Ethan Burnett, Josh Green, Nahum Melvin-Lambert, Kian Leavy, Claudio Osorio and Rashawn Scott. David Nyarko, Ryley Campbell, Kyle Daniel-Spray, Harrison Furlong, Louis Hutchings, Troy Murray, Zion Nditi and Aston Greaver depart from the Under-18s.
That means defenders John Clarke, Matt Carson and Jeriel Dorsett have been offered new deals with Hamid Abdel-Salam, Adrian Akande, Harvey Collins, Matt Rowley and Michael Stickland all having one-year extension clauses triggered.
Professional deals have been offered to U18 players Harvey Maudner, Jacob Borgnis, Tom Norcott, Caylan Vickers, Jeremiah Okine-Peters and Basil Tuma.
Not a huge amount of surprise, then. Southwood staying was potentially popular with fans but the club are well-stocked for goalkeepers in Boyce-Clarke, Dean Bouzanis and Jokull Andresson the immediate candidates for the gloves next year. For the highly-rated Boyce-Clarke in particular, his immediate future may depend on the promise of gametime.
As for Meite, naturally the terms offered are unknown so there is a chance the club are making a somewhat token effort to appease fans. Time will tell if he wants to lead a third-tier promotion push at a club where he is settled, or try a new challenge elsewhere on potentially better money (which may not be guaranteed after recent injuries).