The upcoming January transfer window could be a bleak one for fans of Championship side Reading, needing to cut costs with several possible departures potentially on the way.
This need to minimise their expenditure is wholly due to the agreed business plan they negotiated with the EFL as part of their sanction for breaching Profitability and Sustainability rules, with many key players out of contract at the end of the campaign.
Considering the extent to which they need to cut down, the majority of those in that category are likely to leave the Select Car Leasing Stadium between next month and the summer, potentially providing the Royals with a rebuilding job to do when the end of the season comes along.
Quiz: Have Reading FC signed a player from each of these 20 clubs in the last 5 seasons?
However, there must also be a focus on the short term to make the rest of this term a success, starting with Peterborough United on Boxing Day, Fulham shortly after and then the January window.
The latter will be crucial with several important decisions to make on potential targets to pursue and who they may look to cash in on to make room for new arrivals, although some would argue they can’t be any departures considering the lack of squad depth the Berkshire outfit has.
It looks set to be a tricky period for manager Veljko Paunovic – and ahead of the upcoming window – we take a look at two big transfer decisions the Serbian may have to take in the coming weeks.
John Swift: Keep or cash in?
Although Josh Laurent and Tom Holmes were both the subject of interest from second-tier rivals Nottingham Forest in the summer, it’s creative midfielder Swift who has attracted the most interest with his contract also running out in 2022.
Football League World understands Burnley, Crystal Palace, Norwich City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa, Brentford and Newcastle United are all interested in pursuing his signature after seeing him record eight goals and nine assists in 21 league games this term.
Spending the majority of last season out injured, he has bounced back superbly and his recent form has also alerted another top-flight outfit in Leeds United, with Football Insider reporting that Marcelo Bielsa’s men are continuing to keep tabs on him ahead of a potential move.
At this stage, it would probably be worth the second-tier side keeping him with a relegation battle to fight and clubs unlikely to fork out a huge amount of money for his services with his stay at the Select Car Leasing Stadium set to come to an end in a matter of months,
However, if a tempting bid does come in next month, it’s one Paunovic’s men will need to consider.
Carroll or full-back?
Andy Carroll’s contract at the club is set to expire in mid-January, but it remains to be seen whether the two parties can come to an agreement on a potential extension with Lucas Joao looking set to return in the new year.
Paunovic has recently expressed his desire to extend the ex-Newcastle man’s stay in Berkshire – and with that and the fact the 32-year-old is on a reported £1,000 per week deal – a deal should be able to be struck if he’s willing to accept similar terms.
However, it remains to be seen how many players the club can sign during the January window with a potential cap on how many players they can have in their squad, and they may need to set themselves that cap anyway with restrictions to meet ahead of next season.
There’s no doubting that it would be beneficial to keep ex-England international Carroll – but his injury record remains a concern and the full-back situation is one that needs to be addressed next month.
Felipe Araruna may be an adequate backup to Andy Yiadom, but he can never seem to stay fit and it remains to be seen whether Ethan Bristow can make the step up in place of Baba Rahman if the Ghanaian gets injured.
The African Cup of Nations is also around the corner with both Yiadom and Rahman likely to be away with Ghana if it goes ahead, so it’s something that needs to be looked at.
And if it comes down to picking between a new full-back and Carroll, it will leave the club with a huge transfer dilemma to contend with.