Farewell then, our sweet Ivorian Prince. There was a sad inevitably about Yakou Meite leaving this summer, but today has seen the confirmation from both parties that his time with us is up.
Signing on a free transfer from PSG in 2016 and scoring 42 goals… shoot, anyone can Google these stats. I’m guessing you haven’t come here for facts, you’ve come here to read about what he meant to the club in his seven-year spell in Berkshire (minus one on loan at Sochaux).
We can all disagree on how good he actually was/is, but one thing that tends to unite Reading fans (from what I’ve seen anyway) is how well liked he was/is. Yes, he had games where he was a literal hero (the four-goal haul at Luton Town during lockdown, his 97th-minute winner against Wigan Athletic at home in 2019) but for chunks of his time in Berkshire, he was underused and mispositioned within disjointed teams that lurched from one struggle to another.
Coupled with the fact that injuries prevented him from hitting the heights we all wanted him to, in his six full seasons at the club he played under nine different managers. Nine. And yet, his positivity, his spirit and his overall attitude made him a firm favourite in the fanbase and endeared him to staff and players alike.
Having been fortunate enough to have met him a few times, I can confirm that he is indeed a gentleman and a fine athlete in the flesh. Always good for a chat, always patient, always smiling. These attributes have been missing from the club for a while across the board, but he’s always struck me as the ideal combo of a good player and a good person.
Would he have done a job in League One? Absolutely. Do I begrudge him leaving? Absolutely not. It’s clear that there were serious discussions about him staying and it’s a shame it couldn’t be worked out, especially as his preferred (and in my opinion, best) position of right wing would have been up for grabs.
It’s obviously a summer of much needed change for the club (still waiting on the positive changes to arrive…) but Yakou leaving is a stinger, even if a predictable one.
I’m sure everyone reading this will join both myself and the lads at The Tilehurst End in wishing him the very best for the future.
Thanks for the memories Yakou.