Reading’s players due for Contract Expirations.
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Reading’s players due for Contract Expirations.

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With the season over, all teams in the football pyramid will assess which players they still have on their books.

Contracts coming to an end provide not only a terrific opportunity to get talent on the cheap, but also cause concern among fans who do not want to see performers depart.

Reading has fought heroically to secure League One status for next season. The Royals finished the season 17th, nine points clear of the relegation zone. Being a League One club will make Berkshire a far more enticing area to remain. Relegation would have undoubtedly resulted in a second rebuild in two years, but we don’t have to worry about that.

Contract lengths have been curtailed in recent years as a result of the club’s ongoing transfer restrictions. Since Ovie Ejaria’s four-year contract in 2020, just one player has signed a contract for more than three years: Charlie Savage in 2023.

The Royals have a few first-team players whose contracts expire this summer. Take a peek at who they are below.

Femi Azeez

Azeez got a two-year deal in 2022 after a successful debut season in 2021/22. Despite his young age of 22, the winger is now one of the first names on the team sheet. This season, Azeez has nine goals and eight assists, putting him Reading’s fourth biggest scorer and assist contributor, one ahead of Lewis Wing.

Azeez will be difficult to keep in the summer, with high-value offers expected from Championship clubs. If Reading can keep Azeez for next season, it will be as good as buying a new player.

Clinton Mola

After being released by VfB Stuttgart in the summer, Mola signed a one-year contract with the Royals last summer. As Reading’s defensive depth dwindled near the conclusion of the season, the English full-back began to establish himself in the starting lineup. Despite being left-footed, Mola has played on both sides of the defense this season. Frequently drawn to the sideline to cover for absentees, particularly Jeriel Dorsett while he was injured.

Mola has divided opinions and may be hit or miss in some games, but the skill he has demonstrated in the season’s final games is certainly enough to earn at least another year in Berkshire. Even if he only plays in the rotation next season, his versatility will be difficult to replace.

Joel Pereira

Pereira is a name that some may recognize from his stint at Manchester United, despite departing the club in 2018. He has played for five clubs since then, most recently joining Reading from RKC Waalwijk in the Netherlands last summer. Before being called up to replace David Button in recent weeks, the Portuguese shot-stopper had only appeared in cup games. In his nine League One appearances, he has impressed, keeping clean sheets against Cambridge United, Northampton Town, and Bristol Rovers.

Pereira, unlike many others on the list, has been confirmed as having the option to continue for an additional year. Reading should consider him not only as a quality backup but also as a player who could force his way into the starting lineup due to his excellent form.

Jeriel Dorsett

Dorsett, an academy graduate from Berkshire, has been patiently waiting for his chance in the first squad. Dorsett, who has been with the club since the age of 13, had two loan spells at Rochdale AFC and Kilmarnock before being given his chance in blue and white. Dorsett signed a one-year contract extension this summer and has had 27 appearances this season.

It would be nice to see Dorsett return for next season, not only because he has been with the club for over a decade, but also because his performance this season has earned him an extension.

Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan

Another academy product, Ehibhatiomhan, has broken into the first-team lineup this year after being on the fringes in past seasons. He’s made an incredible 47 appearances this season, scoring 11 goals, despite the fact that he’s mostly played from the bench.

Ehibhatiomhan is a divisive player for many fans: some adore him, while others are irritated by his presence on the field. Kelvin, who has made a few starts on the wing, appears to prefer playing out wide rather than through the middle. Kelvin is a potential talent, and keeping him would be a solid business decision since in a few years he may feel like the one that got away.

Sam Hutchinson

Sam Hutchinson, 34, has been a Royal for two years and brings valuable expertise to extremely young teams. Hutchinson, on the other hand, has only made 26 appearances over the last two seasons and has not been included to a Reading matchday squad since December.

Despite his extensive experience, Hutchinson is unlikely to be offered a contract renewal, having found himself surplus to needs in the second half of the season.

Tivonge Rushesha

The 21-year-old arrived from Swansea City on a one-year contract in the summer. This season, the Zambian international has made only 11 first-team appearances, mostly with the under-21s. Rushesha has primarily appeared in cup tournaments, where he has played in various positions such as central midfield and right back.

Rushesha, like Pereira, signed with the option of an additional year, which Reading is expected to exercise. As a good alternative off the bench who is still developing in the academy, Reading should keep him for another year.

Kelvin Abrefa

Abrefa, a dynamic right-sided player, has had limited minutes in the first squad and has primarily served as a ‘bench player’ for the last two seasons. In his 13 cameo appearances this season, Abrefa appears to be a threat moving forward, with plenty of pace to recover and put in defensive effort.

As another academy graduate, it would be great to see Abrefa stick around and get into the first squad as a potential replacement for Andy Yiadom.

Jayden Wareham

Jayden Wareham, a local teenager, returned to his boyhood club on a one-year contract last summer after being on trial with Chelsea. This season, Wareham has made seven League One appearances and four in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy. Well-deserved cameos for the under-21s’ top scorer, who has nine goals and two assists in 15 Premier League 2 games.

Wareham is another guy who appears to have enormous potential and might play a much larger role next season, possibly comparable to Dominic Ballard in the early half of the season. The striker appears physically and technically prepared, and he was unfortunate not to score his first senior goal against Blackpool.

Nesta Guinness-Walker

The English full-back, who was practically forgotten in Berkshire, secured a one-year extension to his first deal at the beginning of this season. However, things did not go well for Guinness-Walker this season, as he departed Reading for Stevenage on loan in January after only making 10 appearances for Ruben Selles’ side in the first half of the season.

It appears doubtful that either Reading or Guinness-Walker will want to extend his tenure with the Royals. It is still unclear whether Stevenage will grant him the opportunity next year.

Michael Craig

His contract may also end this summer, though no length was indicated when he signed with the club. Craig, who made 36 appearances this season despite being only 20 years old, is clearly someone fans would like to see in a Reading shirt next year.

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