Reading: January Transfer Targets to Keep the Royals in the Premier League
With Reading in the bottom three of the Premier League, in 18th place only thanks to two comeback victories against West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United in recent weeks (via BBC), they cannot afford to rest on their laurels and hope their current vein of form continues.
With just a week left in the January transfer window, the Royals need to strengthen in a few areas if they are to have a chance of staying in the Premier League.
If Brian McDermott is to remain a top flight manager come May, a defender and striker are most necessary. Although the Royals may have been flush in front of goal recently, they have only scored 28 goals this season, while conceding 43 (via Sky Sports).
But what transfer targets should Reading be aiming for, especially if McDermott's claims that they will not be spending big ring true?
Here are five players who won't break the bank, but may make all the difference.
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With the transfer of Stopilla Sunzu currently stalled due to contract issues with his current club TP Mazembe (via Sky Sports), Reading may have to find a new man to end their centre-back woes.
First on the list is Midlands favorite (or enemy, depending on which club he is signed for at that current time), Curtis Davies.
Davies may be looking for a move away from the East and West Midlands area for the first time in over seven years, with a move back down south to be closer to his home town London a possibility. Reading could be the club to offer him that chance, as the Mirror is reporting his current club Birmingham could let him leave for as little as £1.5 million.
For a player who has spent three seasons in the Premier League, and played with both Aston Villa and Birmingham in Europe, his experience could be vital for Reading's relegation survival hopes.
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Another defender who would be a strong singing is Michael Mancienne. After starting his career in the Chelsea Academy, with loan spells at Queens Park Rangers and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Mancienne is currently plying his trade in the Bundesliga with Hamburger SV.
A fan favorite in both West London and Wolverhampton, the former England U-21 player has become a much more permanent feature in Hamburg's first team this season.
However, Mancienne may be looking for a road back to the Premier League so as to alert Roy Hodgson to his incredible progress. He has been impressing on a weekly basis over in Europe but is currently being overlooked for a call-up to the full national squad (via Express).
A solid centre-back with a huge future, it might be tough to try and prise him from Hamburg's grip. But with a market value of £2.5 million (via TransferMarkt.co.uk), he is well within McDermott's reach.
Mirror Football's Ross Dunbar has done all the hard work for Brian with his scouting report, so it's worth a quick phone call to Germany, surely?
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One of the more pricey acquisitions who is high on McDermott's wish list is Swansea striker Danny Graham.
Having scored four goals in the Swans' last seven games in all competitions (via Soccerbase), Graham seems to have found his feet in the Premier League and is being chased by a number of clubs.
According to Wales Online, Swansea are listening to a bid from Sunderland for £4 million, however with Reading already displaying their interest in the striker earlier in the month (via Daily Mirror), there may still be hope for the Royals to hijack the Black Cats bid.
Graham would be a welcome addition to the Reading front line, with only Pavel Pogrebnyak and super-sub Adam Le Fondre scoring their goals recently, in-form Graham could well provide that extra firepower they desire.
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If goals are what are required, and McDermott doesn't want to sacrifice the Pog or Le Fondre, then Graham Dorrans could be the answer to all of his prayers.
With the West Bromwich Albion midfielder being told he can leave the club for the right price (via Daily Mail), Dorrans is up for grabs, and Reading would be able to offer him first team football.
Having made just 15 appearances in all competitions this season, he would be keen for a move away from the Hawthorns to help stake a claim for a regular place in the Scottish national team.
Despite his teammates understanding Dorrans' talent (via Birmingham Mail), Steve Clarke is willing to let him go.
With 17 Premier League goals already in his locker, he could be just what Reading needs, while Reading could be just what he needs to make the fresh start he so dearly craves.
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And finally, one defender who seems to be under many managers' watch is Swedish international Martin Olsson.
One of the most underrated young defenders, in my opinion, the Blackburn Rovers left-back has been a regular in their first team in recent years. At 22 years old, the Swede would definitely be a great investment and did perform well in the Premier League last season.
With the North West club reportedly having seen offers from Premier League clubs as big as Chelsea in the summer, with a £7 million valuation on the table (via Daily Mirror), it would be a surprise if Blackburn would be willing to sell him for much less to a lower-positioned club.
But with West Ham in the race to sign the defender, who can also play a more attacking role, for a £2 million starting fee (via Independent), there is hope for the Royals yet.
Should they improve on the Hammers' rejected bid, and the contract negotiations work out, Reading could well find themselves with a true talent. One who could strengthen both their defense and counter-attacking ability.