Championship Reading are considering a loan move for Arsenal goalkeeper Karl Hein, according to talkSPORT reporter Alex Crook.
This link comes after Rafael Cabral’s departure last week, terminating his contract at the Select Car Leasing Stadium to return to Brazil after failing to re-establish himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet following his injury against Queens Park Rangers in September.
That was due to Luke Southwood’s impressive performances between the sticks for the Royals, suffering a couple of wobbles recently but still impressing with his shot-stopping skills as one of the Berkshire club’s best performers of the season so far.
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As a potential high earlier, Rafael’s departure comes as a financial boost to the second-tier side who will still be limited in what they can do during this window after agreeing a business plan with the EFL in November.
This plan has set Veljko Paunovic’s men financial limits including wages and transfer fees that they need to operate under, with the club facing a further six-point deduction if they fail to stay within these rules.
With this in mind, they seem to have a relatively cheap alternative to Rafael in 19-year-old Hein, who could come in to challenge Southwood for his starting spot as the Estonian looks to impress away from the Emirates Stadium.
Jokull Andresson and James Holden were both recalled from their respective spells at Morecambe and Maidenhead United earlier this month – but manager Paunovic has publicly admitted that they need to replace their recently-departed keeper.
Although it could definitely be argued that the Royals need another player in this position, it makes little sense for the club to invest in a younger keeper considering they already have Andresson at their disposal.
The Icelander may not have proved himself at a second-tier level yet, but neither has Estonian Hein and this is why a more experienced shot-stopper like Frank Fielding could be a better option for them to pursue.
Although Southwood is 24, he only started becoming a regular at the Select Car Leasing Stadium this season and this is why he needs a safe pair of hands behind him to come in if he suffers a dip in form.
Having a solid goalkeeper is vital for the current strugglers as they look to remain above the drop zone, and considering how little many Reading fans have seen of him, they will be nervous about his potential arrival.
However, it would probably be wrong to judge him before he even gets his chance and isn’t likely to come straight into the starting 11, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on if he does make the move to Berkshire.