Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak says Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed did not try hard enough to sign him

 

Pavel Pogrebnyak has claimed he snubbed Fulham to join Reading because Mohamed Al Fayed did not try as hard as Anton Zingarevich to sign him.

Pogrebnyak made a sensational start to life in the Barclays Premier League after moving to the Cottagers on loan from Stuttgart in January, netting an unprecedented five goals in his first three games.

The 28-year-old's record-breaking exploits sparked a flurry of interest from clubs across Europe but Fulham appeared to be in the driving seat and offered him a contract.

Pogrebnyak turned it down and has now suggested it was because the deal was for one year only, with an option to extend it, and also because he felt Cottagers chairman Al Fayed was indifferent towards him staying.

That was in stark contrast to new Reading owner Zingarevich, who bent over backwards to convince his fellow Russian to spearhead his Royals revolution, visiting the striker during their country's European Championship campaign this summer and offering him a four-year deal.

Speaking ahead of what is expected to be his competitive debut in tomorrow's Premier League opener against Stoke, Pogrebnyak said: "I signed four years here. Fulham gave me, one and after two.

"Fulham's president, I think, didn't want so much for me to be at Fulham."

Confirming Zingarevich sold the club to him during the Euros, he added: "He said that he wanted to see me at Reading.

"It's very important for me that Anton speaks Russian and as well that our coach wanted me."

Pogrebnyak was also won over by the plans of Royals boss Brian McDermott.

"I knew a lot about Reading and the coach was the number one coach in the Championship," he said, confirming he was also desperate to remain in the Premier League.

"I prefer England and it was my dream. I always wanted to play in England. I want to stay here as long as possible."

Pogrebnyak had no qualms about joining a club that have inevitably been installed as one of the favourites for relegation following their promotion from the npower Championship.

"I'm sure that Reading will be a great club," he said, hinting at Zingarevich's ambitious plans for the Royals.

"We spoke with Anton about this."

Neither did the striker feel under any pressure to extend his Fulham form across a whole season, refusing to set himself a goals target.

By sheer co-incidence, tomorrow's opponents are the same team Pogrebnyak made his Premier League debut against but he said: "I don't think about this. I must help my team on the pitch.

"It was brilliant that I scored five goals in three games. But I must be more consistent."

His Fulham exploits failed to convince new Russia boss Fabio Capello, who left him out of Wednesday's friendly against the Ivory Coast.

Pogrebnyak revealed he had no call of explanation from either the Italian or anyone at the Russian Football Union but was confident of earning a recall for his country's next game.

"Of course, I'm disappointed," he said.

"I will continue to work and I think next game I will be in the Russia squad."

Indeed, Pogrebnyak even refused to rule out a tilt at the 2018 World Cup, which Russia will host.

He said: "I will be [almost] 35? Yeah, why not?"

Meanwhile, Reading were still waiting today on whether goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen would join crisis club Portsmouth on loan.

That would allow the Royals to complete a move for Stuart Taylor, who has been training with them since being released by Manchester City this summer.

PA

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