Liverpool defender Tiago Ilori has finally completed his move to Championship promotion contenders Reading. The former Portugal youth international has signed a three-and-a-half year contract, keeping him at the Madejski Stadium until 2020.
News of Ilori's impending switch to Berkshire was first broken two weeks ago, with the Liverpool Echo claiming a fee of £3.75m ($4.5m) had been agreed between the two clubs. Many outlets subsequently reported the same figure in addition to a hefty 35% sell-on clause, although getreading suggested the deal is actually worth an initial £2m to be paid in instalments over four years, and could eventually rise to £2.2m depending on unspecified add-ons. The official price has not been disclosed.
Ilori will no doubt view the opportunity to work under a celebrated former centre-back in Jaap Stam as the perfect chance to reinvigorate his stalled career. The 23-year-old made just three senior first-team outings after joining Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool from Sporting Lisbon on transfer deadline day in the summer of 2013 in an initial £3.5m transfer that could eventually have been worth as much as £7m.
Before that, he was dispatched overseas for temporary stints with Granada and Bordeaux. His reputation took a significant hit in 2015-16 when he failed to play at all during an initial season-long loan at struggling Aston Villa that was curtailed prematurely during the January window.
Speaking to Reading's official website after the deal was confirmed, Ilori, like fellow centre-back Liam Moore, revealed that Stam's presence was indeed a major reason behind his decision to join the club.
"There's a few definitely, but the manager is probably one of the strongest factors," he said. "Not just at my age but in general to improve my career and myself as a player, I thought there was nothing better than to learn from someone who has been there and done that. I think he would be a great mentor and that's one of the main reasons for sure."
Hampstead-born Ilori, restricted to U23 duty at Anfield so far this term, could be involved as soon as Saturday (21 January) as Reading look to get their Premier League push back on track against Derby County at Pride Park. The Royals, who boast a game in hand on all of their top-six rivals aside from Brighton and Hove Albion, have now slipped behind Leeds United and down to third after their 4-0 FA Cup third round hammering by Manchester United was followed by a desperately disappointing home defeat to Queens Park Rangers.
Ilori's arrival has been taken as a major hint by Reading fans that Chinese siblings Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li's attempts to purchase a 75% majority stake in Reading might be close to being given the green light by The Football League. Yesterday, influential winger Garath McCleary ended speculation over his future by putting pen to paper on a new contract.