Benfica fans may have seen the last of Dutch winger Ola John at the Estádio da Luz. The 23-year old is on a season-long loan at Championship side Reading, and is keen to make the move permanent.
Speaking to local newspaper Get Reading, John revealed that his future is still undecided: “I have one year left with Benfica, and I don’t know what they want. I haven’t spoken with them yet. We will do that in the summer and then I’ll see what my options are, and what Reading can do of course.”
Asked whether he would like to remain at the Madejski Stadium, the Liberian-born player gave an honest reply: “I hope so. I’m really happy with how things are going at the moment. I’m playing now and it’s a good club. I like the fans, so anything is possible. (But) I’m still a Benfica player, so we’ll see at the end of the season.”
John’s loan deal was rumoured to include a transfer clause that would be triggered in the event of Reading’s promotion to the Premier League, but the Dutch international refuted these claims: “No, it doesn’t depend on that. It depends on Benfica and what they want to do with me. I’m still under contract there.”
Reading are currently 12th in the Championship, 12 points adrift of the play-off positions. John has become something of a cult figure at Reading, impressing their fans with his dribbling and crossing ability. He has contributed 2 goals and 4 assists in his 22 appearances to date, although 16 of these have come as a substitute. The Benfica loanee will hope to feature in Reading's FA Cup quarter-final clash with Crystal Palace on March 11th.
John joined Benfica from FC Twente in May 2012 for a fee of around 9 million Euros. He showed flashes of brilliance in Portugal, but his decision-making and consistency were often criticised, and he was frequently used as an impact substitute. Regardless, the Dutchman managed 9 goals and 15 assists in 89 matches, of which 49 were starts.
This season, Rui Vitória gave John the opportunity to impress by selecting him in each of his first 3 competitive matches in charge. Benfica's coach was unconvinced and sanctioned the winger’s departure to Reading, the second loan move of his career, following a spell at Hamburg in 2014. John’s solitary appearance for Holland came in a friendly against Italy in February 2013.