Financially crippled League One club passed up chance to sign £115m Chelsea star as teenager

Reading are under a transfer embargo after point deductions and supporters won't enjoy hearing the club almost signed a current Chelsea star and future transfer fee record-breaker.

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Financially crippled League One club Reading passed up the opportunity to sign £115 million Chelsea midfielder Moises Caicedo in 2021, at a time when money issues began to become serious for the side.

Former Royals boss Veljko Paunović appeared on X Spaces with The Coaches' Voice this week to analyse the thrilling meeting between Chelsea and Manchester City on Sunday. Currently in charge of Mexican side C.D. Guadalajara, Paunović broke down both sides' tactics from a manager's view and gave a comprehensive review of how Mauricio Pochettino was getting on at Stamford Bridge.

The most head-turning line from the interview came as the 46-year-old admitted that his former side Reading had been scouting and talking with Caicedo over a move to Berkshire before the midfielder ended up completing a transfer to Brighton.

In 2021, Paunović had enjoyed a successful first season at Reading, narrowly missing out on the play-off places. The next season, injuries to Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite combined with the sale of Michael Olise to halt progress, with the club hit with a transfer embargo in July 2021 for breaching profit and sustainability rules.

That was the start of financial worries under owner Dai Yongge for the former Premier League side, who were relegated from the Championship last year due to a points deduction. A further penalty as a punishment for more financial mismanagement hasn't helped their cause this season with the club sat bottom of League One and in a crisis as they await a takeover.

With the side struggling to pay staff each month, it will hurt Reading fans to hear that the club were close to signing a player who would go on to break the British transfer record two years later. Paunović said: "Tactically talking, I think he [Pochettino] will probably have to find a way to use Jackson more efficiently. When Broja came on, he could play that role with him. I think Jackson needs space, needs service from the flank and good passers - I think they have all that in Gallagher and Palmer.

"I still need to see Caicedo more. For me, Caicedo didn't show up enough in that game. He's a player I admire and with Reading we were looking at him before he signed with Brighton. I know him very well.

The former Reading manager said he knew Moises Caicedo 'very well' in 2021. (Image: Getty Images)The former Reading manager said he knew Moises Caicedo 'very well' in 2021. (Image: Getty Images)
The former Reading manager said he knew Moises Caicedo 'very well' in 2021. (Image: Getty Images)

"He is still not developing into the player Chelsea need him to be. I didn't see him helping enough in midfield and getting in spots. That role of box-to-box player, he still needs to develop that."

Any attempts Reading made to sign Caicedo in 2021 were not enough to beat Premier League side Brighton, who paid £4 million to secure his services from Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle. Caicedo went on to make 53 appearances for the Seagulls before becoming a huge cash cow when sold to the Blues for £111 million more than he was bought for.

The 22-year-old has made 13 appearances for Chelsea this term but is yet to hit the highs that come with such a lofty price tag, although has endured injury niggles.