Deniss Rakels played 17 times for Reading between 2016 and 2017, scoring three goals.
The Latvian striker, now 27-years-old, arrived at the Madejski from Polish side KS Cracovia in January 2016. He’d made a name for himself in his native Latvia and then Poland, and arrived with high-hopes and high-expectations.
It was Brian McDermott who brought him to the club, and he was the only manager who could seemingly get anything out of him – Rakels scored all three of goals in the second-half of the 2015/16 season under McDermott.
Injury thwarted his second season at the club where he made just three appearances all season, and he was loaned-out for the 2017/18 campaign – first to Lech Poznan where he failed to find the net in 14 games, and then back to Cracovia where he scored just once in 12.
After that season, Rakels was released by Reading.
Soon after his dismal Reading career came to an end, Rakels signed for Cypriot First Division side Pafos and he was immediately loaned to Latvian side Riga.
This season, Rakels has been back on-loan at Riga. His first season with Pafos after returning from Latvia saw him score just once in 17 league games, and this time round with Riga, he’s scored three in 19 in all competitions.
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Reading fans were really hopeful that the Rakels signing would work out – he was an unknown quantity and a gamble from the club, on a player who’d been so prolific in the European leagues.
He showed glimpses in his first-half season what he was capable of, and perhaps if he didn’t sustain such a long-term injury in his first full-season with the club, it might’ve worked out for him.
Rakels’ career has since taken a sad decline but at 27-years-old, he’s still time to resurrect his dwindling fortunes.