Welcome to Reading, Sam Smith! Or, rather, welcome home. The Royals have completed their second signing of the summer transfer window by snapping up the 25-year-old from Cambridge United on a free transfer. He’s agreed a three-year contract.
It’s a homecoming for Smith, who graduated from Reading’s academy under Jaap Stam in the 2017/18 season. Having scored twice in 11 appearances and embarked on a number of lower-league loans, he departed permanently in 2021.
Since then he’s been on the books of Cambridge United, playing alongside the Royals’ first summer signing, Harvey Knibbs. Smith kicked on pretty well at The Abbey Stadium, scoring 15 in 46 during 2021/22 before netting 13 in 45 last season.
Head of football operations Mark Bowen said:
“Sam has all the attributes we are seeking in a new recruit – young and hungry for success, full of energy, power and explosive pace, a proven goalscoring record at this level and his roots are Royal!
“I’m delighted he is come back home to Reading Football Club and I can’t wait to see how, during two years at Cambridge, he has matured into the player he is now and what sort of a striker he can become in the next three years in blue and white hoops.”
It’s encouraging to see Reading signing players and then having someone be able to explain the rationale behind their arrival - seemingly a stark contrast to the scatter-gun approach on recruitment in recent years. Indeed, as Bowen said, Smith fits a similar profile to that of Knibbs, who’s also a young, energetic forward.
That should stand Smith in good stead for fitting into Ruben Selles’ style. The new manager will want to employ a pressing system, so having a centre-forward on the books with a good engine, work rate and ability to play 40+ games a season will be very useful.
Welcome home Sam!