Jaap Stam has been quick since arriving at Reading to make additions to his squad as he looks to build his own side before the season gets under way.
With the start of the season not far away, it is getting to the time when fans are starting to try and piece together how their team is likely to line up on the opening day. There is likely to be a lot more activity before the season gets underway but with Reading making six signings already – there is a lot to talk about in Berkshire at the moment.
Danzell Gravenberch – Primarily CB – 22:
The former Ajax academy product adds a good deal of versatility to the Reading side and was the first signing of the summer. Gravenberch has spent the majority of his career playing in his native Holland but has also spent time in Romania before landing in Berkshire. It will interesting to see how he gets on but his imposing physical presence shows that he could prove to be a decent signing for the Royals if he can show that there is more to his game than just his athleticism.
The Dutchman may not start every game heading into the new season but has been heavily involved in pre-season so far and his versatility will mean that first team opportunities may be right around the corner for the former Dordrecht man.
Joey Van Den Berg – CDM – 30:
Another member of the Dutch revolution at Reading since the arrival of Jaap Stam and Brian Tevreden as technical director. Van Den Berg is a combative yet creative midfielder who has dropped into a deeper role as his career has progressed. Much like his manager, the Dutchman is not afraid to let the opposition know he is there and this has resulted in him gaining a bit of a reputation as uncompromising midfield presence with more than his fair share of red cards in Dutch football. However, it is tough to doubt the passion and winning mentality that Joey has and this could potentially see him draw praise from the Reading faithful.
It is likely that Van Den Berg could see a lot of playing time with Aaron Tshibola already on his way and more players rumoured to be leaving the Madejski Stadium.
Joseph Mendes – ST – 25:
A pacey forward who was a key part of Le Havre’s near return to Ligue 1 last season. Mendes can also function on the wing but is much more likely to be employed in his favoured central role due to Reading’s reasonable depth in wider areas but his versatility could prove useful for the long campaign ahead. The Frenchman’s goal scoring record raised a few eyebrows among Reading fans but he had found the net in 6 of his last 10 games in Ligue 2 and has done enough to impress the management in Berkshire.
At the moment it is looking like Mendes could see a lot of game time heading into the new season with Reading slightly short of striking options, but his pace and eagerness to prove himself in English football could prove to be a strong combination.
Anssi Jaakkola – GK – 29:
Another player with ties to Ajax albeit through the Dutch giant’s South African affiliate. Jaakkola could be seen as a bit of a journeyman goalkeeper having spent time playing in his native Finland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Scotland and most recently South Africa before finalising his move to Reading. The one-time Finnish international will provide some good competition for the number one spot for Ali Al-Habsi with Jonathan Bond currently injured and missing the majority of the pre-season as a result.
It is quite unlikely that Jaakkola will immediately dislodge last campaign’s player of the season Ali Al-Habsi from between the sticks but he will be itching to get a chance to show what he can do in what is undoubtedly a very tough division.
John Swift – CM – 21:
The former Chelsea man turned down a contract with Antonio Conte’s side in favour of a move to Reading as he looks to establish himself away from Stamford Bridge. Unlike any of the other signings Reading have made thus far, Swift has experience in English football and in the Championship. He spent last season on loan at Brentford where he found the net 7 times in 28 appearances which is no doubt a good return. Swift has also represented his country at many youth levels including most recently with the England under 21’s in Toulon.
The former Chelsea man is an exciting signing for Reading as he adds something different with a real eye for goal from midfield and his box-to-box style will no doubt impress fans if he takes this opportunity to prove himself away from Stamford Bridge.
Roy Beerens – Winger – 28:
This one could prove to be a major coup for Reading. The Royals have landed themselves a pacey and exciting winger after the Dutchman’s proposed move to Stuttgart fell through at the last minute. Beerens arrived from Hertha Berlin and really is a player that can get fans on their feet with his trickery and direct running. During his time in his native Holland, the Dutchman was involved with the Dutch national team and this was key in him securing a move to the Bundesliga.
The Dutch international has caused the most excitement among Reading fans of any of the 6 signings so far. He is a tricky winger who can operate on either flank and Jaap Stam has already made it clear that his an admirer of Beerens’ talents. The Reading faithful will just be hoping that the former AZ Alkmaar man can do better than the last Dutch international winger called Roy that Reading signed.
Reading have used their scouting network well so far to find what the team needs but on a tight budget which has only been slightly loosened by the departure of Aaron Tshibola to Aston Villa. There is little indication that this is the end of the transfer activity for Reading with a few more positions needing to be filled and with a few players still expected to leave the Madejski in the coming weeks.
The main aim for Reading going into this season will be to improve on their last two league campaigns which have seen pretty miserable finishes for a club so recently in the top flight. Jaap Stam will need time to implement his philosophy and style into the club but with departures expected and a proposed emphasis on youth next season – there is little doubt that Reading are fully into a transitional period and it will take time for them to develop and gel under a new system. It is a gamble taking on the relatively inexperienced Jaap Stam as manager but the Reading faithful will be hoping that the Dutch revolution can take them back in the Premier League.
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