Reading Football are delighted to confirm that striker Sam Baldock has signed a three-year deal with the Royals, moving to Madejski Stadium from Brighton & Hove Albion for an undisclosed fee.
Sam, who turned 29 in March, has more than 100 career goals to his name to date and he will take squad number 9 in Paul Clement’s Royals squad, committing his future to Reading until the summer of 2021.
Royals boss Paul Clement said, “I’m very happy that Sam has joined us here at Reading, having pursued his signature throughout the summer. I always felt he was the right striker for us to bring to this club in terms of his age, his experience and his quality. Now, I look forward to working with Sam on the training field in preparation for Friday night’s home game against Derby County.”
Baldock’s beginnings were rooted in Wimbledon, as a young striker he came through the ranks with the Dons and followed the club to Milton Keynes in 2003 before making his full MK Dons debut in 2005.
The 29-year-old goal scorer gradually began to feature in first team action more and more at MK and he played a part in the Dons’ League Two title win and a Football League Trophy triumph over Grimsby Town at Wembley in 2008.
Before the start of the 2008-09 campaign, Baldock scored his first senior goal… against Reading! Steve Coppell’s side ran out 2-1 winners ten years ago, courtesy of goals from Jimmy Kébé and Stephen Hunt, but Baldock got off the mark himself – turning inside the box and stabbing the ball wide of Adam Federici.
Having been called up to England’s Under-20 squad for a World Cup campaign in Egypt, the 19-year-old began to shine in League One, scoring 13 goals in 44 appearances for Roberto Di Matteo’s men. He hit double figures the following two seasons, bagging his first hat-trick at Colchester United in March 2011.
That consistency earned him a move to Upton Park that summer and he helped the West Ham seal a return to the top flight via the Play-Offs before signing for Bristol City at the start of their 2012-13 Championship campaign.
His best goal haul to date came the following season when Sam scored 24 goals to end the 2013-14 campaign as League One’s leading scorer – the sixth successive season Sam had recorded double figures in front of goal. That form prompted a transfer to Albion four years ago.
In his first year on the south coast, he scored a cracker against Ipswich and netted against Arsenal in an enthralling FA Cup encounter with the Gunners, only for a knee injury to hinder his start as a Seagull.
His best form as a Brighton player came in Albion’s promotion-winning campaign, scoring 12 times (including two against the Play-Off reaching Royals – one in the Carabao Cup and another in a league win over Reading at the Amex) in total as Chris Hughton’s side finished just a point behind title winners Newcastle.
In the south coast side’s first ever Premier League campaign, Baldock’s first team opportunities were limited and now he begins a new chapter in his career as a Royal.
Chief Executive Ron Gourlay said, “Sam is a striker who has proven pedigree in scoring goals and he played a very important role in helping Brighton achieve promotion to the Premier League little more than a year ago. Now, I am looking forward to seeing him score more goals as a Royal. I’m delighted he has chosen to sign for Reading Football Club.”
Technical Director Brian Tevreden added, “Sam is a player we have been interested in signing since the transfer window opened, so I am very pleased we have been able to bring a striker of his calibre into our squad ahead of the start of the 2018-19 season. Goals are vital to any team and, in Sam, we have added a player who thrives on finding the back of the net and a striker who is hungry for more success.”