If Reading sign Tom Ince, it would be an open letter of intent to the rest of the Premier League. In big, bold letters it would read: READING ARE NOT GOING DOWN WITHOUT A FIGHT. And to really compound the message, maybe Tom Ince could deliver it to each club himself, perhaps doing some keepy-uppies at the same time.
Leaving the mildly threatening letter aside, the potential signing of Ince would represent a real coup for Reading. He has, after all, been linked with Liverpool for the majority of the transfer window.
If Ian Ayre and John Henry balked at the reported £8m transfer fee (perhaps partly out of stubborn embarrassment, having let the player leave the club for basically nothing just 18 months ago), you would hope Anton Zingarevich would be happy to pay it given that Ince has real potential.
In fact, £8m seems quite reasonable for a young, exciting English forward who has 15 goals in 30 appearances this season (a stat Wilfred Zaha can only dream of, and look at how much he went for, and to whom!). He's two-footed, can play wide or through the middle and can score goals.
What is most impressing though, is his ability to pick the right pass at the right time, which shows a maturity that belies his age. Reading have been guilty of being too blunt at the sharp end of the pitch. Too often does a pass go astray, or a hopeful cross is whipped in instead of the rolled into the path of a late runner. If Ince comes in, he'll bring some composure to the Reading attack.
Reading are reasonably well stocked in wide players, so although there's little doubt he'd be one of the first names on the team-sheet, the question still remains of where he will play. Early rumours suggested that he would play through the middle as a number 10, perhaps stemming from McDermott's new pen chant for turning wingers into central players (see: McAnuff). That seems unlikely given that Reading don't really play that system.
Although McAnuff, in his central role, is the player who supports Pogrebnyak from the middle, his starting position is quite deep, ostensibly as a central midfielder, which is a role unlikely to suit Ince. It would be a bit like, to quote the great Zlatan, buying a Ferrari, but driving it like a Fiat. Jimmy Kebe has the right wing on lock-down, so that leaves the left side of midfield, which is where I would see him playing. McCleary and Robson-Kanu have done well in that position, but Reading put so much emphasis on playing through the wings, you need real quality out there. As a left-winger, Ince will be able to cross the ball on his favoured left foot, but then also cut in and shoot or pass with his weaker, but still very good, right foot.
If Reading can sign Ince and get a result against Chelsea, it would top off an already excellent start to 2013. Confidence is growing at the Madejski and I'm sure the other Premier League clubs don't need a letter (threatening or otherwise) to tell them that Reading won't be going down without a fight.