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It’s somewhat of an open secret that Gary Mackay-Steven will be leaving Celtic very soon. What we don’t know yet is where he will end up.
Despite Patrick Roberts going back to Man City, the arrival Jonny Hayes from Aberdeen last week seems to have done Mackay-Steven no favours and it’s unlikely that he will feature in Brendan Rodgers’ squad.
Mackay-Steven’s Celtic career never truly got off the ground. The 26-year-old signed from Dundee United in 2015 and in two-and-a-half years at the club later, he has managed just 46 league appearances. Despite all of this, Mackay-Steven clearly has something to offer.
Sheffield United and Reading, to name two, are among his suitors and it’s the Berkshire club who could benefit the most from his arrival.
Reading were so close to achieving promotion last season; finishing third in the Championship, seeing off an impressive Fulham side in the play-off semi-finals and eventually losing on penalties in the final at Wembley to Huddersfield Town.
Others are more fancied to win this league, but to have finished behind two of the stronger Championship sides you’ll see, tells you they are not far away at all from being title challengers themselves. Here’s how Mackay-Steven could help them.
Mackay-Steven can play on the left wing, the right wing or anywhere through the midfield ranks and so can provide Jaap Stam with various options. Given the fluidity of their play, Reading need to have versatile squad members rather than statuesque ones and Mackay-Steven definitely fits into this bracket.
Although he didn’t make the grade in England first time around with Liverpool and Fulham, Mackay-Steven has spent the previous two years of his career at a club winning everything domestically. True, since Brendan Rodgers’ arrival he has hardly been in the team at all, but winning is a habit and he has been part of a winning team for a while now.
Bringing a winning mentality to the squad could be vital to Reading and so the sort of experience he has gained in recent times could stand him in really good stead. Mackay-Steven will be 27 at the end of August and would bring 175 league games with him in his memory banks. With that in mind, he will not be overawed by the Championship and can help Reading go on to win the title.