The Potters are seemingly closing in on a deal for the player during the offseason – and as one of Reading’s better players last season in the Championship, it will be a huge blow to see him walk out of the exit door this summer.
The 27-year-old was a mainstay in their side last season, making 41 appearances in the league and bagging two goals with four assists. Now, it looks like Stoke will benefit from his services next season, leaving the Royals needing to scramble and find a replacement.
With that in mind then – and considering the ongoing financial issues with the club – here are three cheap options for the club to potentially sign as a replacement.
Smith has been a Championship mainstay for quite some time and has been a frequent starter for Swansea over the last two years despite the fact he has now been released from his contract.
The 31-year-old managed 35 league games last time out with three assists and considering how much knowhow he has of the second division, he could be a solid addition for the Royals in the centre of the field.
Reading will not want to be dragged into another relegation battle and having someone like Smith in the middle – who has played in nearly 250 games in the Championship – could help lead them further up the table next time out.
Considering he is also available for nothing, it looks like he could be a nice replacement for Laurent, with the only potential negative being his age in comparison to the outgoing player.
Can you remember how much Reading FC paid for these 22 summer signings?
The midfielder could be a much better signing when it comes to age and potential than Smith – but that also means less experience to his name and more question marks over his ability.
Still, despite being relegated with Barnsley last season, he played on 33 occasions and managed one goal and one assist for the side and showed flashes of his brilliance along the way.
The 22-year-old has the potential to be a solid option in the centre of the field based on his showings so far and considering the fact that he could also be available on a free transfer, it could be a shrewd bit of business.
He isn’t quite as proven as Laurent is but Palmer is a young, hungry player and would no doubt jump at the chance to stay in the second tier next season.
If the side want to look lower in the football pyramid for midfield options, they could turn to Tom Carroll, who is out of contract at Ipswich Town.
He’s played in both the Premier League and the Championship and knows what it takes to succeed at a high level. His best time as a footballer arguably came for Swansea in the top flight but he has since struggled to get the same amount of gametime.
Last season, he only managed eight starts for the Tractor Boys, so will likely be rusty when it comes to playing time. However, considering the amount of time he has spent in the second tier, he could be a useful option if he gets regular action and gets back into his best form again.
At 30-years-old though, he again represents more of an older option when compared to Laurent.