“We’ve had a look at him in training over recent weeks and he’s shown good qualities," Reading manager Mark Bowen told the club's website after Ayub Timbe signed for the Royals. “He’s catching up on his fitness a little bit with the Chinese league being out of season at the moment, but I think he can be a real asset to us and I’m delighted to have him here."
The winger joined the Berkshire outfit on loan until the end of the season from Chinese outfit Beijing Renhe, but what exactly can Reading fans expect from their new recruit?
Timbe was born in Nairobi but also holds Belgian nationality; he learned his trade at Anderlecht from the age of 13 and continued his footballing education in the youth ranks of Beerschot AC before signing professional terms at Genk in 2010.
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At Genk, he played alongside Kevin De Bruyne and Christian Benteke, and scored his first goal in a Europa League qualifying clash against FC Luzern in August 2012.
Timbe went on loan to Lierse in 2014 and made the move permanent two years later, before taking up a new challenge with a transfer to the Chinese capital and Beijing Renhe in 2017.
Reading have reportedly been on Timbe's case for about a year, but finally have managed to get their man.
In 2018, the 27-year old was directly involved in 11 goals in 14 appearances for Renhe, scoring seven and providing four assists. However, the following year, he managed just two goals and as many assists in 12 matches, with injury limiting his progress.
“Timbe is a player who likes to go forward and is a finisher as well, he is always hungry for goals,” Posta Rangers coach Sammy Omollo told Goal. “It is not only about scoring, but we have also seen him bringing in good crosses for strikers.
"Reading will enjoy his services from the flanks and I am sure he will have several goals to his name as well.”
The Harambee Stars winger is known for his speed and fitness levels, which have seen him always make the first team regardless of the team he is playing for. His national team coach Francis Kimanzi believes the player has what it takes to be successful owing to his skills and character on the pitch.
“A fully fit Timbe is a problem to any defender; we all know what the Championship is all about, the competition is stiff,” Kimanzi told Goal. “However, the player will have no problem coping with the situation.
"First, he is technically gifted, when on and off the ball, his movements are unpredictable. Secondly, he is very aggressive and always on the move which makes it easier for his teammates. We also know how quick he is on the ball and his electrifying speed is a plus to Reading on counterattacks.
“I have faith, Timbe will be a hit at his new team and will help them in the attacking department.”
Timbe inspires teammates
Eric Ouma who plays for the Swedish side AIK particularly notes the impact Timbe has on the team when on the pitch, with the duo having operated effectively in tandem down Kenya's left flank on several occasions.
“I have enjoyed playing with him, the kind of strength he has is speed and he is a [big] game player who reads the game,” Ouma told Goal. “He brings motivation and strength to the team regarding his style of play and achievements which is something that any other upcoming player is looking up to."
Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Anthony Akumu is also a teammate of the JMJ Academy graduate at international level, and the lanky midfielder believes that Timbe is the type of player any coach would want to have in his team.
“[Timbe] is a good player; he has everything any coach would need in a player,” the former ZESCO United midfielder told Goal. “He is strong has speed, skills and he can handle the ball very well. He is physically fit as well. Reading will enjoy his services.”
A team player
Some critics have pointed out that Timbe rarely tracks back and helps out with defending, especially when the team loses the ball or finds itself under pressure. However, Kimanzi explains why this might seem to be the case.
“It depends on the structure of the team and instructions from the coach; Timbe follows instructions to the letter," Kimanzi concluded. "If he is asked to help the defenders he will definitely do that. It depends on the tactics employed by the technical bench."
Timbe is expected to make his debut on Saturday when Reading host Hull City at Madejski Stadium.