Farewell Andy Carroll or, should we say, adieu. Amid reports that he’s set to sign for French side Amiens, it’s been announced that Carroll has “triggered a release clause in his contract to terminate his deal with the Royals with immediate effect”.
A departure felt inevitable really. Carroll started this season as one of Reading’s first-choice strikers, playing alongside Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan, but quickly fell out of favour. Following a poor performance and penalty miss at Port Vale in the second league game, Carroll was seemingly excluded entirely from the first team amid unconfirmed rumours of a falling-out with Ruben Selles. It was later reported that he, Tom Holmes, Nesta Guinness-Walker and Dean Bouzanis were free to leave the club.
This still means Reading need to find another striker this window, with only a day or so remaining. Besides Ehibhatiomhan, the Royals can currently only count on Sam Smith (injured) and rookie Caylan Vickers as out-and-out centre-forwards, although others can play there if needed. Getting another body in would really help out with competition and rotation, with Reading consistently playing two up top and being set for an intense run of fixtures later this year.
The new player will have to suit Reading’s system a lot better than Carroll though. Being a distinctly immobile target man, he was a poor fit for Selles’ energetic, pressing style that demanded work rate and movement from the front two. The problem wasn’t just stylistic though - after all, a similarly immobile Sam Hutchinson has managed to adapt to Selles’ style whereas Carroll couldn’t.
Carroll was much more prominent last season. Often the first choice for then-manager Paul Ince, he scored nine times in 30 Championship appearances, a reasonable return that included some important goals, although he rarely stood out well in his all-round play.
That was his second season in Berkshire, after spending a few months with the club in 2021/22, when he scored twice in eight games. The first of those, a left-footed finish at Swansea City, prompted a very popular rowing-boat celebration with his teammates. He signed off with another strike at the Riverside, in his final appearance of that season for the club.
What Reading really needed from Carroll was an aerial threat - the quality he’s most respected for. However, the frustrating thing across his time at the club is that he failed to provide that under multiple managers, with Reading rarely being the kind of side to put a high volume of crosses in for him to work with. Still, a return of three headed goals isn’t good enough.
He’s the latest in a long line of first-team players to have departed the club this summer in something of an exodus. Naby Sarr, Tom Ince and George Puscas were all in contract but headed off - the former via a clause in his deal, the latter two being sold.
A number of others were released: Luke Southwood, Scott Dann, Liam Moore, Claudio Osorio, Rashawn Scott, Kian Leavy, Dejan Tetek, Lucas Joao, Shane Long, Junior Hoilett, Nahum Melvin-Lambert and Yakou Meite. Additionally, half a dozen loanees returned to their parent clubs: Joe Lumley, Tyrese Fornah, Jeff Hendrick, Mamadou Loum, Baba Rahman and Cesare Casadei.
Best of luck in (presumably) France, Andy.