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Jaap Stam

Why Ilori will boost Reading’s defence

Tiago Ilori has finalized a £3.75M move to Reading from Liverpool. Ilori joined the Reds for almost twice that fee three-and-a-half years ago from Sporting Lisbon and has, at times shown potential, notably in the Under-21 European Championships tournament with Portugal.

However, his opportunities to fulfil that potential has been hindered by a lack of game time, both at Liverpool – three FA Cup appearances since 2013 – and during loan spells. He gained mixed reviews with Granada and Bordeaux before failing to play a single game in a troubled 15/16 Aston Villa side.

However, on his day Ilori has both the physicality to help improve Reading’s defending – they have conceded more goals (32) than anyone in the top seven – and the tools to suit their style of play. The 23-year-old is confident with using either foot, which fits Jaap Stam’s fluid tactics and the team’s tendency to play out from the back. He provides competition and depth, meaning that an injury to current centre-backs Liam Moore or Paul McShane will not necessitate a holding midfielder such as Joey Van Den Berg moving away from their usual position.

Not long ago, Ilori was talked about as one of the most promising young defenders in Europe. The Championship could be the ideal level for him to re-build his career away from the limelight. In Stam, who won 14 trophies during his illustrious playing career, including three titles and a Champions League win in three seasons with Manchester United, he may have the perfect defensive tutor.

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