A Reading fan’s view of Jem Karacan

 

It appears that Wigan Athletic are about to sign 27 year midfielder, Jem Karacan. Karacan is a free agent, having been released from his contract at Galatasaray by mutual consent.

Jem Karacan was born in London to a Turkish father and English mother. In his early teens he played at Wimbledon, declining an offer to join Galatasaray, his father’s favourite club in Istanbul. He went on to join the Reading youth system.

Karacan signed  a professional contract with Reading as an 18 year old in the summer of 2007, but spent most of the 2007-08 season on loan at Bournemouth and Millwall. He went on to make 155 appearances for Reading between 2008 and 2015, scoring 11 goals. This included 21 appearances in the Premier League in 2012-13.

In September 2013 Karacan had been badly injured in a game against Leeds, suffering damage to his anterior cruciate and medial ligaments. The injury kept him out of action for a year. He returned to first team action in January 2015, but received another injury set back that put him out for a couple of months. He went on to make 8 appearances in that 2014-15 season.

On the expiry of his contract in the summer of 2015, Karacan joined Galatasaray. He made one start and one substitute appearance for Gala before being sent on loan at Bursa, some 2 hours drive from Istanbul. Karacan went on to make 6 starts and 3 substitute appearances for Bursaspor after joining them in February 2016.

Should Latics sign Karacan it will be a gamble, given the player’s past injury problems. However, Karacan was held in high regard at Reading and if he could regain the form of those earlier years could prove a shrewd signing.

In order to learn more about Karacan we asked Dan Wimbush, editor of Reading fan site The Tilehurst End Blog (@TheTilehurstEnd) to respond to a few questions. Here is Dan’s response:

1. What type of midfield player is he?

He’s great at a variety of roles but ideally he’s the terrier in a pair or a three through the middle. Jem brings real energy and passion to the side but he’s more than just a dogsbody to do the running as he’s got a tough tackle in him as well as being able to grab the odd goal. 

I wouldn’t have him sitting in front of the defence or in a 10 role but in old-world terms he’s a perfect No 8. 

2. Strengths/weaknesses

Strength wise, his energy and passion are certainly up there. He formed a great partnership with Mikele Leigertwood between 2010 and 2012 that saw us reach a play-off final and win the league and if you can find the right partner for him at the DW he’ll do really well. As mentioned he’s not to be ignored creatively either and in his final seasons at Reading he was just beginning to show what he could do when given more freedom, until a horrific injury against Leeds nearly ended his career. 

Weakness wise and he’s not amazing in the air, and his recent injury struggles can’t be ignored. However, as he told us himself, he never picks up small niggles, it’s always big nasty injuries, so I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing!

3. Effort/Popularity with the fans

Jem was well loved by the Reading fans and was a popular choice for Captain despite being injured at the time. He came through the Reading Academy and always gave 100% for the club. He had a few minor moments in his youth where he rubbed fans up the wrong way on social media but that’s very much in the past, he’s grown up and has a very mature outlook for someone still in their late 20’s. He’s happy to engage with fans on social media and always spoke well in the media. 

4. Why did he leave Reading? Effect of injuries?

Injuries and finances really. He’d been out for 15-months and Reading were waiting to test his fitness before offering him a significant long-term deal. By the time they were convinced, one of his boyhood teams, and his Dad’s team, Galatasaray had offered him a big deal he just couldn’t refuse. The two sides parted on good terms though and fans understood his decision to take financial security and the chance to play in the Champions League.

5. Would you re-sign him for Reading?

In a heartbeat, though I’d be wary of a long-term deal until he’s got some regular game time back under his belt. If he gets back to the level of play we saw just before his injury in 2013 then he’ll be one of the best in this division but after injuries and barely any game time in Turkey it might take him a while to get back up to speed. 

 

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