Reading manager Veljko Paunovic has insisted he remains hopeful that the Royals can keep hold of defender Omar Richards beyond the end of the January transfer window, despite strong reports he is nearing a potential departure.
The defender has been one of Reading’s standout performers in the Championship so far this campaign and has helped them establish themselves firmly amongst the promotion contenders.
That form has seen Richards attract plenty of attention in the transfer market and it is being reported that Bayern Munich are interested in securing a move for him.
The German and Europan champions are thought to be in advanced talks to sign Richards, who is out of contract at the end of the campaign at Reading. That means he is free to sign potential pre-contract agreements with teams abroad during the January transfer window. Therefore, keeping hold of the 22-year-old is going to be difficult.
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Speaking to Berkshire Live following the Royals’ 1-0 defeat against Luton Town in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, Paunovic was insistent that Reading are doing everything they can to keep hold of the defender and that he is still not giving up hope of keeping hold of him.
He said: “I did have conversations with him and I gave him [Richards] my complete support that we would like to have him here.
“He has told me he is on the same page as the team and wants to deliver his best.
“He is having a great year and we want to keep him healthy, on the field, and help him continue playing his best football so far.
“If we have to lose him – and I’m not giving up on that – I would be disappointed.
“What he showed in his football, his quality and all the investment and the relationship I have with him is excellent.
“At this point I’m not giving up on him or any of our players who may be approached in this window or the next one.”
Keeping hold of Richards beyond the summer looks like a very difficult challenge for the Royals, and that is testament to the form that the left-back has been able to show throughout the campaign so far. The 22-year-old has been averaging 1.4 interceptions, 2.5 tackles and 1.6 successful dribbles per game in the Championship (Sofascore) and it is no surprise that form has attracted interest.
The prospect of moving to the European champions is always going to be incredibly difficult for anyone to turn down in their careers, and Richards would be very brave to turn down that chance. The left-back deserves credit for keeping his head focused on playing for the Royals during this period of talk around his future.
The defender will be hoping that whatever he decides to do he will be able to play a role in helping Reading earn promotion this term. However, he needs to weigh up whether he would feature for Bayern Munich or see his development stunted by having long spells on the bench in Germany.