Reading’s summer exodus has continued with the sale of George Puscas, who’s off to Italian side Genoa on a permanent basis. He had been on loan there last season, with an obligation to buy included in the deal if Genoa were promoted to Serie A, which ultimately came to pass.
The exact amount of cash the Royals are receiving is unknown, with Reading referring to an “undisclosed fee which will now be payable to the club in instalments” in the official announcement. However, Mark Bowen said at the STAR event a couple of months ago that Reading were in line for a figure that was a significant amount of what was spent on Puscas originally. That would suggest a few million.
Puscas is the second in-contract player to leave the club this summer. Naby Sarr had been set for another three years in Berkshire, but has moved to Qatari side Al-Markhiya SC. In addition, Lucas Joao, Luke Southwood, Scott Dann, Shane Long, Liam Moore and Dejan Tetek were all released.
It’s a bittersweet end for a player that arrived with probably more fanfare than any other signing in recent years, but leaves with Reading simply glad to get a fee for a huge disappointment. Back in the summer of 2019, forking out a club-record fee of around £8m for an Inter Milan striker was exciting, but that wasn’t matched by Puscas’ product in the following seasons.
Perhaps the writing was on the wall from his early days in Berkshire. Bar an excellent brace against Cardiff City, Puscas quickly built up a habit while under Jose Gomes’ management of frequently missing golden chances. None of Gomes’ successors - Mark Bowen and Veljko Paunovic - fared any better with Puscas, with the Romanian international’s status slipping further and further while fans’ patience eroded more and more.
There’s no one single answer for why things went wrong for Puscas. The list of factors includes a lack of confidence (not helped by that gaff-prone start), not being the right fit tactically for a side that consistently preferred to play just one striker, a long injury spell in 2020/21, a lack of appropriate service, and of course his own general underperformance.
When he was good he was very good: just refer to the rapid hat-trick at Wigan Athletic or the brace against Cardiff City for examples. But those moments were few and far between - tantalising reminders that he was a talented player but not a reliable one.
Puscas leaves Reading with the overall record of just 20 goals and five assists in 91 appearances. Hopefully he’ll manage much better with Genoa.