Championship side Reading are in talks with former first-choice goalkeeper Rafael Cabral over the potential termination of his contract at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, according to Ge Global.
The same outlet are reporting he is ‘close’ to leaving the Berkshire outfit due to the club’s financial problems, breaching the EFL’s restrictions and being sanctioned with a six-point deduction last month because of this.
As part of their negotiations with the governing body regarding their punishment, the Royals also agreed to a business plan with the aim of cutting costs as they look to put themselves on the right path to a more sustainable future.
Quiz: Have Reading FC signed a player from each of these 20 clubs in the last 5 seasons?
This means the club may need to let go of some of their prized assets during the upcoming winter window and during the summer to stay within the budget set by the EFL and escape a further six-point deduction, a penalty that will be applied if they cannot remain within these restrictions.
The first casualty of this likely clearout looks set to be Rafael, who was ruled out of action with a hand injury he sustained after September’s clash with Queens Park Rangers and has been kept on the bench since by Luke Southwood.
Barring an error against Hull City earlier this month, 24-year-old Southwood has been outstanding for the Championship outfit and looks set to remain between the sticks for the foreseeable future.
But despite manager Veljko Paunovic’s omission of the 31-year-old in recent months, Brazilian Rafael has no bad feelings towards the club and understands the situation his current side find themselves in.
Speaking to Ge Global, the shot-stopper said: “The club is excellent, but unfortunately right now it’s having this Fair Play problem, where we’ve already lost six points.
“(The club) has to achieve some goals with player sales, revenue and payroll reduction so that there are no more punishments, as far as we know.
“So really anything can happen. But I repeat, the club is great.”
First joining the club on a free transfer in 2019, his contract is set to expire in the summer but could depart the club as earlier as next month, with the ex-Sampdoria goalkeeper set to be ‘free on the market’ in January.
The Brazilian was a brilliant addition at a time of crisis, with Joao Virginia failing to perform during his short time at the club and the 31-year-old coming in to nail down the number one spot in Berkshire.
Making crucial saves and single-handedly keeping the Royals in some games, he was vital in guiding the club to safety and that shouldn’t be forgotten despite disappointing in the last 18 months or so.
However, the previous 18 months does have to be analysed, because he made far too many errors during the 2020/21 campaign and didn’t look too much better this term, so Southwood coming in was much-needed.
If the Royals can get away with paying little compensation for his departure, then it’s an opportunity they should take considering he’s sitting on the bench and the club currently has no shortage of talented goalkeepers for the long term.
Jokull Andresson and Coniah Boyce-Clarke look like talented prospects that will be pushing for a starting spot in the next couple of years, and though inexperience in the goalkeeping department may be a concern if Rafael does leave, the fact Southwood is tied down to a contract should help to put fans’ minds at rest.