Reading midfielder John Swift is currently a wanted man.
Football League World understands Premier League sides Burnley, Crystal Palace, Norwich City and Wolverhampton Wanderers are all interested in pursuing the 26-year-old’s signature, along with Aston Villa, Newcastle United and second-tier outfit Sheffield United.
The Blades may have recently cooled their interest since the latter exclusive, facing up to the fact they won’t be able to win his signature considering their current league status and top-flight teams interested, but other clubs including Leeds United are still likely to be monitoring his situation as the January transfer window approaches.
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With his contract at the Select Car Leasing Stadium expiring next summer, this will only persuade more sides to join the race for his signature after seeing him register an impressive eight goals and seven assists in just 17 Championship games this term, a record worth of Premier League football.
His departure at the end of the season would bring the curtain down on a reasonably successful five years for Swift in Berkshire, arriving on a free transfer in 2016 and establishing himself as the club’s most valuable asset.
He may even leave before then with the winter window coming around the corner – but is it worth Veljko Paunovic’s side cashing in on him during January?
We discuss that key question below.
Letting some of their most valuable assets go has become something of a speciality for Reading in recent years.
Not only did they lose Omar Richards for free to former Champions League winners Bayern Munich this summer, but another promising player in Danny Loader left on the expiration of his contract at the club last year and as an England youth international, the forward has a real chance of becoming a big star in Europe.
Selling Swift would buck this trend and potentially persuade the EFL to withdraw some of the stricter transfer restrictions from the embargo that caused real problems for the club in the early stages of the previous window, something that would definitely help for a side that ideally need a few reinforcements to bolster their squad for the remainder of the campaign.
The 26-year-old’s potential sale would also help the club to try and remain within profit and sustainability limits for the future, with a January departure contributing to the Royals’ 2021/22 accounts. And this money may also give Paunovic or a potential successor more money to spend when embargo restrictions are finally eased.
Alen Halilovic and Ovie Ejaria are two players who would be able to step into his advanced midfield role in the centre if he was to leave the club midway through the season, so his departure may not be the end of the world for the Berkshire outfit.
However, this is a man who has recorded a whopping 15 goal contributions this term, with his club scoring less than half of that with 28 league goals during the 2021/22 campaign so far.
In normal circumstances, officials at the Select Car Leasing Stadium may have been able to hold out for a fee of around £20m for his services, especially when taking into account his reasonably young age.
But with his contract expiring in just a matter of months, any offers made during the next window are likely to be well below his real valuation despite a potential bidding war, with interested clubs knowing they will be able to bypass negotiations with the Royals in the summer and recruit him for free.
His importance to his current side is huge, with his goal contributions stats showing how reliant Paunovic’s side have been on him at times this season.
Him leaving midway through the campaign would be a huge blow, especially with the club currently in the bottom half of the table and a potential nine-point deduction on the way for breaching financial rules.
The 26-year-old would be key in dragging the Royals away from relegation danger if this punishment is applied in the coming months – and they would suffer hugely financially if they were to drop down to the third tier.
This makes retaining him a potentially sensible option for the second-tier outfit unless an obscene bid comes in. An offer of £5m or more would probably have to be considered though.