As the Championship season goes into its final months, barring a late unbeaten run, Reading look set to spend another season in the division. Despite a positive start, the Royals’ poor spell looks to have cost them a place in the play-offs and thoughts will soon turn towards preparing for next season.
One part of that process will be assessing the players brought in this year on loan and deciding whether to try and bring them back to the Madejski. Obviously there will be a number of factors to weigh up- whether McDermott sees them as part of his plans, match performances and most importantly whether the club could afford it.
With some time still to go until the end of the current season, here are some thoughts on the impact the loan players have made at the club and whether they would be good additions next season.
Andrew Taylor (On Loan From Wigan)
Appearances: League- 12 (1 as sub), FA Cup- 2 (0), League Cup- 2 (0)
Clean Sheets: 2
As the reserve left-back at the club, Taylor has struggled to stake a prolonged claim to a place in the first team. During a spell on the sidelines for Jordan Obita over the Christmas period, Taylor proved his capabilities in the Reading defence. The problem is that, when both are fit, Obita arguably offers a greater threat going forwards and subsequently will be picked more often.
When it comes to the question of whether to re-sign Taylor or not you would also have to ask whether he himself would want to come back. Reading need another left-back in case Obita was to injure himself again but Taylor will probably not want to come back to a club that will not play him as often as he would like.
If the price was cheap enough and Taylor did surprisingly want to stay then perhaps you could see a long term deal surfacing. Based on the focus on Obita, however, you would imagine that McDermott will let Taylor return to Wigan and look elsewhere for another left-back.
Matej Vydra (On Loan From Watford)
Appearances: League- 19 (3), FA Cup- 3 (1), League Cup- 0 (0)
Now here is a difficult decision to make. When Vydra first signed for Reading on loan from Watford, it was a signing that was met with much excitement. Vydra was a striker that had scored 24 goals in the 2012/13 season and then 16 in the 2014/15 season. The Czech has been a proven goalscorer at Championship level but has comparatively struggled at Reading.
In the early stages of the season it was Nick Blackman who was getting all the goals for the Royals. Following his departure, however, Vydra came to the forefront and started to make a mark. The problem is that a large percentage of his goals came in the FA Cup and he has scored only a couple of goals in the league.
When it comes to deciding whether or not to try and sign him on a permanent basis, finances will also play a major part. Reading paid £2.5 million to get him in on loan for the season, with the option to buy should they get promotion. With promotion seemingly out the window and Watford seemingly securing their place in the Premier League for another season, it would be surprising if Vydra were to stay. Even if he did, a huge sum of money would probably be required to sign him on a permanent basis if the loan fee is anything to go by.
Based on his performances this season, therefore, it would be difficult to justify a large fee to sign Vydra permanently or on loan for another year. The striker was beginning to show the form prior to his most recent injury that many were expecting of him and he would be an asset to the club moving forward. It would, however, be highly difficult to imagine the club being able to finance a deal for him.
Michael Hector (On Loan From Chelsea)
Appearances: League- 20 (3), FA Cup- 1 (1), League Cup- 2 (0)
Clean Sheets: 8
Despite signing for Chelsea earlier this season, Hector returned on loan to the Madejski to finish the season with Reading. His performances have been somewhat hit and miss but his recent spell in the holding midfield position have proven the quality that the academy graduate possesses.
When it comes to next season, it is clear that Reading will not be looking to purchase the youngster having already sold him. The question is, will McDermott look to loan him back for another year. While stranger things have happened, Hector will probably be keen on trying to get into the Chelsea team. With Terry potentially being forced out the door, it may be time for some fresh faces in the Blues’ defence.
As a result, Hector staying at Reading for another year is something that probably will not come to fruition and based on the inconsistency of his performances this year, something that the fans probably would not want.
Lucas Piazon (On Loan From Chelsea)
Appearances: League- 13 (4), FA Cup- 1 (2), League Cup- 1 (0)
Piazon has five goals and three assists to his name this season, putting him in the top three goalscorers and top five in terms of assists so far. Statistics like that may suggest that he is an integral player in the Reading squad but Piazon has had to contend with life on the bench in recent games.
When it comes to intentions for next season, Piazon is one that will probably be left to return to Chelsea. The Brazilian has been loaned out to Malaga, Vitesse Arnhem and Eintracht Frankfurt in recent seasons but on each occasion has returned to Chelsea. This season it looks as if the same will happen once more as the midfielder has not contributed enough to be worth the price-tag Chelsea would no doubt put on him.
While there is no doubt that Piazon is a skilled player, it has been shown on numerous occasions that he is too lightweight for the Championship. As a result, it would be surprising to see him back at the Madejski next season.
Alex Fernandez (On Loan From Espanyol)
Appearances: League- 2 (6), FA Cup- 0 (1), League Cup- 1 (0)
Despite being a fan favourite on social media, Fernandez has struggled to get onto the Reading bench let alone the starting lineup. Signed on loan from Espanyol following the pre-season friendly, the Spaniard demonstrated the quality he has with a well taken goal in Reading’s 5-2 drubbing of Huddersfield in the FA Cup.
The problem is that due to the exceptional performances of the other central midfielders in the Reading team, Fernandez has simply not been included. Despite McDermott praising his character, you feel that the midfielder does not feature in his plans. If the manager is not playing him now, it is pretty safe to assume that he will not be back at Reading next season.
Ola John (On Loan From Benfica)
Appearances: League- 5 (13), FA Cup- 0 (3), League Cup- 1 (0)
If there was one player that would be a good addition to the Reading squad next season, it would probably be John. The midfielder struggled for large parts of the season to get a place in the starting lineup, with McDermott citing fitness as the ongoing concern. John is now getting more game time, however, and proving his importance to the side.
At 23 years of age the Benfica player has plenty of years ahead of him and if the new fan chant is anything to go by then he is a player that they have welcomed into their hearts. John is one of the more creative players in the Reading squad and offers a persistent threat going forward.
This is not to say that he is the finished product by any means. Defensively his game needs improving but it is something that will definitely come. With a rumoured option to buy at the end of his loan spell, John is certainly one to consider. The midfielder will only get better as time goes on and he offers a spark going forward that the team would suffer without.