Reading Football Club are delighted to confirm that 29-year-old goalkeeper Vito Mannone has completed a transfer from Sunderland to join the Royals for an undisclosed fee.
The former Arsenal stopper arrived in Reading last night and successfully completed his medical earlier today before putting pen to paperwork which keeps him at Madejski Stadium until June 2020.
Manager Jaap Stam said, "We have some outstanding young keepers at the club but, with Ali leaving, we wanted some extra goalkeeping experience to join Anssi in the first team squad. And Mannone is a great goalkeeper.
"He has played at the highest level for both Arsenal and Sunderland and he has also played a lot of games in the Championship whilst on loan with Hull. And Vito has the abilities we are looking for - he is comfortable playing the ball with his feet and can make the right choices at the right time within our system.
"Of course, he now needs to challenge for a place in the first team - a place that Anssi wants to fight for as well, of course. But we're very glad to have him at the club."
The 6’2” Lombardy-born goalkeeper first arrived in the UK as a 17-year-old signed by Arsene Wenger as he swapped Atalanta and his native Italy for a role within the Arsenal ranks.
His professional debut came the following summer when Mannone was on the winning side in a penalty shootout as his save helped loan side, Barnsley, beat Blackpool in a Carling Cup clash at Bloomfield Road.
After playing understudy to Łukasz Fabiański in the same competition back at Arsenal the following season, he was on the bench for a Premier League game for the first time in April 2008 – unused as Jens Lehmann stood between the sticks in a 2-0 Gunners victory against Steve Coppell’s Reading at the Emirates.
But the Italian was to get his chance at the end of the 2008-9 campaign, starting ahead of Wojciech Szczesny and alongside Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott in a 4-1 home win over Stoke City.
Champions League football followed as he kept guard for the Gunners against Standard Liege, Olympiakos and AZ Alkmaar in 2009-10, before keeping clean sheets against Wigan and Fulham in Premier League victories for Arsenal in the early part of the campaign.
A loan stint at Hull City followed and Mannone keep four clean sheets in his first five Championship games - saving a Shane Long penalty when the Tigers drew 1-1 with play-off contenders Reading in December 2010.
The former Italy Under-21 international returned to Hull in January 2012 to make an even bigger impact on Humberside, conceding only three goals in his first eleven league games at the KC Stadium – and he fought his way into contention for the no.1 jersey at Arsenal in 2012-13 before ending an eight-year affiliation with the North London giants by signing a two-year deal at Sunderland that summer.
In his maiden campaign as a Black Cat, Mannone won the Player of the Season gong at the Stadium of Light - saving two penalties against Manchester United to take his new team into their first Wembley final since 1992, a Capital One Cup Final against Manchester City in 2014.
Now, three years later, Mannone leaves Wearside for a new challenge under Jaap Stam at Reading.
Chief Executive Ron Gourlay said, “It was very important that we acted swiftly to bring a new goalkeeper to the club, but it was absolutely critical that any new signing was the right fit for Reading. In Vito, we believe we have acquired an excellent keeper with a real hunger to return to the Premier League as a Royal.”
Director of Football Brian Tevreden commented, “I am very pleased that Vito has agreed to be a part of what we’re trying to achieve here in Reading. He is a highly-rated goalkeeper with Premier League, Champions League, Cup Final and, importantly, valuable Championship experience - and I’m sure he will be a great signing for this football club.”