Date of birth
Rakels completed a move to Madejski Stadium for an undisclosed fee in January 2016, putting pen to paper on a deal to keep him at the club until the summer of 2018, with an option to extend for a further year.
He scored 15 goals for third-placed Cracovia in the Polish top flight earlier that season, a tally which saw him sit in second place in the Ekstraklasa goalscoring charts ahead of the move to Reading.
The forward began his career in his native Latvia, demonstrating a keen eye for goal in his early years spent with FK Liepajas Metalurgs, top scoring in the Virsliga (the Latvian top tier) with a total of 18 goals before a move to Poland in January 2011 when he signed for Zaglebie Lubin.
A season-long loan at GKS Katowice saw him impress sufficiently to earn another season in the Polish First League and, after scoring 11 goals in 27 matches for Katowice, he ended the season as one of the division’s sharpest shooters.
In January 2014, Rakels switched back to the Polish top flight to join Cracovia, where the striker has scored a total of 26 goals in little more than 60 appearances.
On the international scene, Rakels made his senior Latvia debut before he turned 18 – coming off the bench to replace Andrejs Pereplotkins in a goalless draw against Lithuania back in the summer of 2010.
He has gone on to become a regular for his country – starting in Euro 2016 qualifying clashes against Turkey, the Czech Republic, Iceland and Kazakhstan this season.
At Reading, a last minute winner at The Valley in February 2016 earned the forward immediate cult hero status and goals at Leeds and QPR were added to his tally before a broken ankle suffered at the start of the 2016-17 season set him back, sidelining him for much of the first season under Jaap Stam.