This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Reading have recruited their second trialist in a week with former Watford full-back Achraf Lazaar linking up with the first-team squad, as per a report from the Reading Chronicle.
With former West Bromwich Albion winger Kyle Edwards also joining the Royals on trial and playing over 50 minutes of football in their pre-season friendly against Lincoln City on Saturday, the Championship side seem to be ramping up their recruitment drive ahead of the new season.
They are yet to make a signing in the transfer window thus far – but according to Berkshire Live – they have taken an interest in free agent wingers Yannick Bolasie and Junior Hoilett.
As per the same report, they have even gone as far as offering the former a contract, although it’s currently unclear whether the 32-year-old would be tempted to sign the deal considering he has strong interest from Turkish top tier sides.
Trialist Kyle Edwards was also reported to be in talks with Scottish Premiership side Celtic not so long ago, so any deal for the pair may need to be wrapped up quickly.
And after this latest development with Lazaar, they seem to be closest to signing the former Watford, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United player with no strong interest from elsewhere and the Moroccan 29-year-old already in the building.
With a limited amount of football in recent years though, would he be a good free transfer to pursue? Someone the Royals need after losing Omar Richards?
We asked three of our FLW writers these two important questions.
The higher or lower Reading FC transfer fee quiz – can you get 20/20?
It’s obvious that Reading need to recruit a new left-back due to the departure of Omar Richards, but Lazaar would perhaps be quite a big risk considering his lack of game-time in recent years.
Since his move to Newcastle in 2016, Lazaar has played just 31 league games for five different clubs – his career not exactly going to plan after showing promise at Palermo.
The Moroccan clearly showed something to be offered a deal until the end of last season at Watford but he was merely back-up to the much superior Adam Masina and was restricted to just five appearances.
Lazaar still has time to carve a career out for himself in England at the age of 29, and he may end up putting in some good pre-season performances for Reading, but he wouldn’t be a fantastic Richards replacement in my eyes.
They would do much better targeting either a young Premier League left-back on loan or perhaps even delving into League One or the Scottish Premiership to find someone – Lazaar would definitely be the cheap option if they were to sign him.
This is a potential move that I am not very convinced by.
He struggled to pave his way into regular football at Newcastle, and he did not reach the levels of expectation at Watford. At one point fans were calling for young centre-back Ben Wilmot to take his place at left-back!
However, his recent difficulties could stem from the fact that he has not been able to play regular first-team football. Given a permanent home, he could well turn his fortunes and emerge as a good signing, should Reading make a move.
After all, the recruitment teams at Watford and Newcastle have seen promise in him.
With Reading expected to push for promotion next season, I am not entirely sure that Lazaar is a player that could take them to the next level.
I would not be too convinced about this one really if I were in Reading’s shoes, with Achraf Lazaar a player that has not been able to settle anywhere he has been over the last few years.
He had a brief stint with Watford last term and he did help them secure promotion to the Premier League but in truth, he did not contribute all that much for them when he played.
Lazaar does have a lot to prove after a challenging period in his career and he will be fully motivated to take any chance he gets to make a move to a club like Reading this summer.
Therefore, it might be worth a punt if the Royals can secure him on low wages and do not expect him to be a player that transforms their hopes of success in the Championship.
The left-back position is one that Reading have to add to this summer following Omar Richards’ departure.
However, I would suggest that there are better options out there for them to consider than making a move for Lazaar at this stage.
Having said that, taking a look at him first is a sensible approach from Reading and there is no harm in seeing what he is like in and around their squad.
If he impresses suitably on trial then he could be a decent enough addition to the squad, but personally for me this would be one to avoid.