With the departures of Ali Al-Habsi and Danny Williams inflicting further misery onto Reading fans following a heart-breaking playoff final defeat on penalties to Huddersfield Town, it was clear that Jaap Stam needed to strengthen his squad if the Royals were to have a chance at replicating their 3rd place finish in the Championship this time round.
Jaap Stam has added six new faces to his side so far and all but one have had a chance to show what they can do. Reading fans have started to form opinions of their squad members and what impact they could all play as the Berkshire club chases promotion this season.
The former Aston Villa man is the most recent arrival at the Madejski. The Curaçao international is versatile player, who adds a good deal of depth to the Reading side. Perhaps best known as a right sided player, Bacuna has spent his playing time under Jaap Stam occupying central midfield and hasn’t looked out of place.
Verdict: It is fair to say that Bacuna’s departure from Villa Park was met with relief by some Aston Villa fans. However, if Jaap Stam can keep the expressive utility man on the straight and narrow then he could be a key player for the Royals this season.
A superb solo goal in the cup against Millwall displayed his ability to run directly and strike from long range. It was a goal that showed that Bacuna could go some of the way to replacing the recently departed Danny Williams in the heart of the Reading midfield.
The first summer signing for Reading having arrived from Ajax back in June.
Another versatile player, but the Dutchman is definitely happiest in attacking midfield. Clement has worked with Jaap Stam previously during the Reading boss’ time with Jong Ajax, so it is no surprise to see that the 21-year-old has appeared in six of Reading’s seven games so far this season.
The former Ajax man clearly possesses excellent technical ability and has shown glimpses of quality during the first month of the season. However, he has at times looked lightweight and has struggled with the physical side of the game.
Verdict: A talented technical player, who has shown a really good desire and work-rate in his young Royals career. It will take time for the Dutchman to adapt to the physical rigours of English football but there is definitely a lot of potential there, especially considering his age and Ajax pedigree.
The Gambian international has added a whole new dimension to the Royal’s attack with his pace and direct running style. Since arriving from Swansea, Barrow has played in a relatively free role and has used this to great effect, picking gaps in defences with his speed making him a real threat in attacking areas.
During his time on loan at Leeds last season, first team opportunities were severely limited. However, the former Swansea man has looked lively and has impressed Reading fans as he has appeared in all games to date, and got his just rewards when he opened his account for the campaign by poking home against Aston Villa.
Verdict: Early signs suggest that the Gambian international could be the best bit of business for Reading so far this summer. Barrow’s pace and energy in the final third adds a new dimension to the Royal’s attack and may not be long before he is a firm favourite among Reading fans.
Jón Daði Böðvarsson
The Icelandic international arrived from fellow Championship side Wolves and an unfortunate injury has limited the forward to just two appearances in a Royal’s shirt. Nonetheless, Böðvarsson showed his work-rate on his debut against Queen’s Park Rangers and was only denied by a fine save by Smithies in the Rangers net.
The Reading faithful will have to wait and see what the Icelander really can bring to Jaap Stam’s side, but will be hoping that his goal against Birmingham will be a springboard for a solid season.
Verdict: Böðvarsson may not be a goal machine if his Championship record is anything to go by, but his work-rate and size could make him into an ideal target man which would add a new focal point to the Royal’s attack.
A striker who could bring the likes of Barrow and Swift into the play in dangerous areas will prove very useful as the season progresses. However, there are still a lot of unknowns about the Icelandic forward and Jaap Stam will be very pleased to see his return given the injury crisis currently affecting Royals forwards.
The Italian arrived at the Madejski Stadium and was immediately handed the responsibility of taking over from two-time player of the season Ali Al-Habsi. The Omani international was a firm fan favourite in Berkshire, but Mannone has done little wrong between the sticks so far.
Despite only keeping one clean sheet in his first five league outings, the former Arsenal man has produced some reasonable performances in these games and was at times left exposed by some questionable defending.
Verdict: Mannone hasn’t pulled up any trees in his first few games in Berkshire, but early signs suggest that the Italian is a good replacement for the departing Ali Al-Habsi.
It is likely that the former Sunderland man will be seeing the ball at his feet while at Reading a great deal more than he has any of his other clubs. Nonetheless, if he continues to perform the way he is at the moment, this signing looks like a very good pick up for Jaap Stam.
An attacking minded midfielder who, like Bodvarsson, has signed from Wolves. The 31-year-old will provide some competition across the central midfield positions.
The Welshman notched 10 goals in 53 games last season for club and country, having been a regular for Wolves since his arrival in 2008. However, he has been limited to just one league appearance so far this campaign.
Verdict: An experienced head in midfield, whose knowledge from playing across many divisions and internationally will help the likes of John Swift, Liam Kelly and George Evans to no end.
This was a smart pick up from Jaap Stam, as the former Shrewsbury man will add depth to the midfield, whil his natural eye for goal and knowledge of the division could be a massive boost for Reading going forward.
It has been a fairly successful summer transfer window so far for Reading. The Royals have added depth to their squad, with four of their signings having played Premier League football in the past. Nonetheless, there is still one position that the fans would love to see added to, and that is striker.
Jaap Stam has a bit of a selection headache with last season’s top goalscorer Yann Kermorgant sidelined and only two fit first team strikers available. If a new forward was to arrive, it would leave Reading feeling pretty confident moving past the transfer window as they look to push for promotion once again.
Royals fans will be hoping that a marquee star striker signing will arrive before the end of transfer window, allowing Jaap Stam’s men to really kick on after a mixed start to the season.