As George Puscas tore England apart in the Under-21 European Championships this summer, few could imagine him swapping the San Siro for the Madejski Stadium just a few weeks later. Puscas, no relation to the legendary Hungarian, has already taken to life in the Championship like a duck to water, scoring twice in his opening two league matches with West Brom the next side in his sights.
But how on earth did Reading pull this miraculous transfer out of the bag?
Kia Joorabchian, an influential agent across Europe has played a key part in the Royals’ recruitment over the past twelve months. Like Jorge Mendes at Wolves, it is his links with other clubs that have come to fruition for Reading. His close connections with Inter Milan allowed Reading to jump the queue ahead of sides such as Palermo to make the deal happen.
With the talented forward playing a key role for Romania’s Under-21s this summer, even appearing in the UEFA Team of the Tournament, the deal did not come to fruition until late in the window and it was Reading’s substantial offer of £7.5m that got the it over the line. Palermo were also very interested in securing his signature but their restricted finances prevented them from purchasing Puscas when push came to shove.
The 23-year-old had a load of other offers from across Europe and held talks with teams in France, Germany and Italy but in the end it was Jose Manuel Gomes and Reading who convinced him that becoming the main man for the Championship club would be his best move.
Puscas carries the ball from well inside his own half and before he knows it he's clean through on goal and sweeps it home! The ex-Inter Milan player found that easy!
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This move came as a complete surprise. Many at the club believed at the start of the summer that money was tight and the club was under a transfer embargo. Having overspent over the past decade, the Berkshire club have had to cut costs so it came as a great surprise when they broke their transfer record fee for the Romanian international.
However, as we have seen several times this summer, the fee will be paid in installments over several years according to Jonathan Low, who covers the club for BerkshireLive. He told Sky Sports:
“We were led to believe any deals would be minimal. The club is still counting the costs of past mismanagement and financially they were struggling, but they appear to have steadied the ship somewhat. The deal is also reportedly in instalments, so it's not as simple as a £7.5million fee upfront."
It was clear to everyone at the club that despite the heavy outlay, this was a sensible long-term investment. Puscas was touted to join one of Europe’s top teams and has shown his quality in his opening games, proving that he has the ability to do so in the future if he fulfils his potential.
At international level he is already one of the leading lights of Romania’s upcoming golden generation. Alongside Ianis Hagi, the Eastern Europeans have two talented youngsters who can progress their national side to the next level. Puscas has not found playing for his country difficult, at Under-21 level he scored 18 goals in 25 appearances before being promoted to the senior team.
That step up was made with ease and he now boasts four goals in eight appearances for his country and looks to have seized his chance as the nation’s leading forward. For Reading, he is currently flourishing in the 3-5-2 system that Gomes has started the season with, allowing him the freedom to roam, as we saw when he scored a solo goal against Cardiff at the weekend.
Puscas, who will cause the Baggies problems tonight, is one of the must-watch players in the Championship this year. It is early days, but already it appears that Reading - and English football in general - are lucky to watch such a precocious young talent play every week. In a decade or so we could look back and think: ‘Can you believe Puscas played for Reading in the Championship?!’