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Opinion: Reading should do all they can to acquire 30-year-old striker regardless of Lucas Joao’s situation

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From an outsider looking in, it appears that Reading may have a tough summer on their hands, with Paul Ince potentially having to oversee a full-scale rebuild at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Ince has been handed the managerial role on a full-time basis after keeping the Royals in the Championship, and he now has to try and build a squad for the upcoming campaign – one that as of now looks extremely thread-bare.

A number of Reading’s first-team players are out of contract this summer – one has already departed in John Swift to divisional rivals West Brom – and then you have the likes of Tom Holmes Andy Rinomhota, Josh Laurent, Andy Yiadom and Femi Azeez who have been offered deals to stay.

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Where did the club finish in 2021/22?

Having struggled financially in recent times, Reading will likely not have any transfer budget to play with, meaning that they will have to rely on freebies and loans – or someone like Lucas Joao being cashed in on to help rebuild the side.

Even though it may not be possible, Reading should look to keep hold of Joao this summer and partner him with another striker who knows how to score in the Championship – one they’ve been linked with at the start of June in the form of Andre Gray.

The Royals are believed to have joined the hunt, along with Birmingham City, Cardiff and Preston North End, for the 30-year-old, who is now a free agent after being released by Watford.

Gray has tons of Championship experience, first playing in the second tier with Brentford in 2014, before moving on to Burnley where he scored 23 times to help the Clarets to promotion to the top flight.

A 2017 move to Watford though, where he transferred for a mammoth £18.5 million, didn’t work out for the most part, with just 19 goals scored in 113 outings, although most of those appearances were in the Premier League.

Gray showed this past season though that he still knows where the back of the net is in the Championship, with his loan spell at Queens Park Rangers producing 10 league goals in 28 matches, with just 13 of those being starts.

Whilst Mark Warburton was reluctant to sometimes use Gray, he still showed that he can find the onion bag, and with Reading lacking striking options going into the 2022-23 season, he could be an ideal pick-up on a free.

Wage demands of course mean that a move may not be possible, but now a free agent, Gray has to be realistic and he will already surely know he will get nowhere near what he was on at Watford.

Reading though may only be able to pay what he wants if Joao is cashed in on, and whilst that wouldn’t be an ideal situation for the club, Gray would be able to fill the goalscoring void somewhat.

As a partnership, Joao and Gray could be prolific if they have the chance to work together, and that’s what Paul Ince should be trying to work towards.


25 years old, UCLan Sports Journalism graduate, Preston North End fan

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Opinion: Reading should do all they can to acquire 30-year-old striker regardless of Lucas Joao’s situation

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