The Wokingham Paper

Stam lines up list of eight potential Al-Habsi replacements

Ali Al Habsi
Defeat at Wembley looks set to be Ali Al-Habsi's final game for Reading (Pic by Steve Smyth)

JAAP STAM says the club have a list of eight names they are interested in bringing to Reading to replace the outgoing Ali Al-Habsi.

The Omani stopper and two-time player of the season is expected to complete a move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal in the coming days.

While a surprise from the outside, Stam revealed Al-Habsi had a clause in his new contract, signed earlier this year, which always left the club open to the possibility of his departure.

“We don’t need to lie about it, there is interest in Ali,” said Stam.

Al-Habsi enjoyed another brilliant season

“At the moment he is still here. There is nothing done yet.

“Ali has got a certain clause in his contract. He made the decision that if the opportunity is there to go, then he wants to go.

“Ali has done very well. We find it a pity that he might be leaving but it’s his choice.

In a way you can understand it. He is of a certain age, he can live close to his family and all the other things that come with it.

“We are very thankful to Ali for what he has done for the club.”

Reports this week suggest Reading have made a move for Newcastle United goalkeeper Karl Darlow as a potential replacement for the two-time player of the season.

And Stam did not rule it out.

“We’ve got a list of potential candidates that we want to bring into the club,” he said.

“But it’s not going to be easy.

“We’ve got a list with eight possible goalies. Darlow is maybe there.

“(Manuel) Neuer from Bayern Munich is there as well, because he is good with the ball at his feet and (Marc-Andre) ter Stegen is on there as well!

“But no, not joking, we’ve got a list.

Stam has called on Jaakkola to push for the number one jersey

“Is it possible to get the player out of their club, pay the fee and the wages?

“It’s never easy to bring somebody in who has got the same quality as Ali or maybe even better.”

Finland international Anssi Jaakkola, 30, remains at the club with some fans wanting to see him moved up the pecking order if Al-Habsi does depart.

And Stam says any new arrival would not necessarily come in as first choice.

“I want to bring in a goalie,” he said.

“I’m not going to be saying this one is going to be number one because Anssi needs to push for it as well.

“Anssi has been behind Ali all season, he’s been the second goalie.

“But if Ali leaves, then Anssi needs to push and he needs to show himself now that he is the first team goalie.”

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