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…
Premier League side Leeds United are weighing up a move for Reading midfielder John Swift ahead of the January transfer window, according to Football Insider.
The same outlet have also reported the 26-year-old has recently rejected fresh terms at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
With his contract in Berkshire expiring in the summer, this suggests there is little prospect of him extending his stay beyond tthe current season.
This is a major but expected blow for the Championship side after seeing the ex-Chelsea man recorded eight goals and nine assists in 21 second-tier appearances, establishing himself as one of the division’s most talented midfielders having been a key player for the Royals since his arrival back in 2016.
Quiz: Can you name which club Reading FC sold these 26 players to?
Spending the majority of last season injured, he has returned to form just in time to showcase his ability in an attempt to secure a move to the Premier League after spending the majority of his career in the EFL, plying his trade with Rotherham United, Swindon Town and Brentford on loan spells before joining the Berkshire outfit on a permanent deal.
With the advanced midfielder rejecting a new deal at his current side, his valuation has been lowered from £7m despite the fact several top-flight sides are reported to be interested in his signature.
But with this contract update now emerging, is it time for Veljko Paunovic’s side to cash in? And how much should they hold out for now after this latest revelation?
We asked three of our writers at Football League World for their verdicts on these two questions.
I still don’t think they can afford to cash in given where they are in the table.
It cannot be understated just how important a player Swift has been this term and if you take away his influence, the Royals could be a relegation contender.
That might seem harsh as they do have a capable squad but they’re just two points above the drop zone and look likely to have their hands tied in the January window ahead.
Letting their best player and one of the most impactful players in the division leave now would be a mystifying decision in my eyes.
Obviously, they risk losing him for nothing in the summer but that’s a better alternative than going down.
It is a difficult situation for Reading to be in, as they are now at a point where he will not sell for as much as he would have done in the summer.
Swift is a player with excellent technical ability, intelligence and desire to win football matches, and he certainly could make the step up to the Premier League.
He definitely deserves an opportunity to test himself at the highest level too, which is why it will be difficult to see him go.
Swift has had so much influence in that Reading team over the last few years, and given the injuries to key personnel this season, his importance has grown even more.
Given he is a much-loved figure at the club, it would be difficult to deny him a January move, but given the numbers of important players that are still missing, he would leave a huge void.
They will not get anywhere near the £7m that was being suggested in the summer, well you would at least think so at this point.
Accepting around £5m may be a good idea in normal circumstances, but they are hamstrung by the restrictions they face as part of their agreed business plan from next season, so it would be logical to keep him at this stage.
The Royals are still in a relegation scrap at this stage so it would make little sense to cash in on one of their most important assets. Losing him for free will be painful, but second-tier survival is priceless and considering the number of injuries they’ve had this season, he will probably be needed for the remainder of the campaign.
His injury record and consistency can be questioned, but on his day, he’s the best midfielder in the Championship and that’s something the Royals have over the likes of Cardiff City, Peterborough United and Barnsley who are also fighting for their survival.
Losing him could be costly both in terms of the team as a key cog in their machine and psychologically, so he has to worth keeping beyond January if they are able to offload others like Rafael Cabral and Liam Moore who are likely to be on hefty wages.