Despite a disappointing 17th-placed finish in last season’s Championship, there are plenty of reasons for Reading fans to be optimistic ahead of the coming campaign, with new boss Jaap Stam securing a handful of excellent signings – and more reportedly on the way.
Perhaps the most established arrival is that of central midfielder Joey van den Berg. The tough-tackling 30-year-old impressed last season at Eredivisie side Heerenveen and proved himself a man capable of the big occasion, scoring a superb winner away at Dutch giants Feyenoord in January.
He’s joined by fellow Dutchman, Danzell Gravenberch, an imposing yet creative full-back signed from Dordrecht.
And he’s a man the new boss knows well, having come through the Ajax youth academy. However, his consummate displays last season for Dordrecht are where the 22-year-old has really made his name.
However, the most exciting buy could well be Joseph Mendez, who arrived from Le Havre – the French club where Paul Pogba cut his teeth.
The tricky winger netted nine times in Ligue 2 last season as Les Ciel et Marine narrowly missed out on promotion – six goals more than the departing Hal Robson-Kanu mustered in the English second-tier in 2015-16.
There’s also the small matter of signing former Finnish international keeper Anssi Jaakkola, while giant Argentine defender Gaston Campi is currently on trial at the Madejski Stadium – and would be a huge coup, with the 25-year-old currently at South American giants Racing Club.
There’s a clear pattern in Stam’s signings, who combine size and strength with flair, confidence, and a reliable end-product. And while the recently sold Aaron Tshibola will be missed, the Royals’ savvy boss is sure to use the reported £5m fee from his sale wisely.
Stam’s men begin the season at home to Preston, with 21/20 for the former Ajax assistant to enjoy the perfect start to his tenure in Berkshire.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.