Torquay lose hotshot striker

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson has revealed that hotshot striker Jamie Reid has left the Gulls after rejecting a new deal – but the manager says he has had to find good goalscorers all his career, and he will do it again.

Also walking away, despite the offer of a new contract, is winger Kalvin Kalala, while three players – Ryan Dickson, Jared Lewington and Josh Baxter – have been released. The manager also confirmed that everyone else is staying put, meaning the squad is looking pretty healthy, despite the loss of its top goalscorer.

Reid scored 78 goals in 144 games for the Gulls during a couple of loan spells from Exeter City and after signing full time in 2017. He finished this season on 18 National League goals having scored 31 in all competitions during the 2019-20 National League South title season.

Johnson said the club tried to persuade their prize asset that his immediate future lay at Plainmoor – but the lure of League football won the 25-year-old over.
“It was nothing to do with the offer,” said Johnson. “The club actually did everything we could to keep him – where are you going to find another 30-goal a season man?
“It has happened to me a few times over the 30 years as a manager where I find a striker that might not be scoring goals and I look at their technique and I think I can make them into a goalscorer.
“Reidy is one of those and always you lose them in the end because eventually they want to find a higher club, whether they be for finance or whatever.
“We tried to convince him it would be us pretty soon, but he acknowledged ‘thanks for trying but I have sort of made my mind up’.
“But it is a bit precarious out there at the moment so I hope him and his representative get what they are looking for.
“I don’t think anything is absolutely fixed as yet because it can’t be with all the problems in football and the Football League not knowing what they are doing – so nobody is taking on players with new contracts.
“So him and his representative have taken a little bit of a risk but that’s what he wanted to do. The club did all it could to try to keep him.”

Of Kalala, who Johnson first signed for Cheltenham Town, and then brought to Torquay in 2018, the manager said: “He decided quite early that he wouldn’t be taking up the offer. Unfortunately, Kalvin found himself an agent who said he could find him a much higher league to play in.
“Kalvin has got everything but there are some things he needs to work on. We thought, given another year with us, we could have probably got it out of him. I think our supporters know what I am talking about.
“We will see where they end up but we wish them well because they have been part of what we have done – a good part of what we have done – and you are always going to lose some people, some of the time.

“So now we have to be positive with the ones that we have still got and everyone else has agreed.”

That means Johnson has 12 players already signed up for next season, including goalkeeper Lucas Covolan, and midfielders Armani Little and Jake Andrews, who already had deals running until 2021, and youngsters Louie Slough and Olaf Koszela.
With the caveat that the eight other players have agreed, but not yet actually signed their new contracts, the manager has also kept hold of goalkeeper Sean McDonald, defenders Ben Wynter, Liam Davis and Kyle Cameron, midfielders Asa Hall and Matt Buse, and attacking midfielders Aaron Nemane and Ben Whitfield.

That’s not a bad starting point going into a period when some clubs could release all of their players because of the financial burden of the coronavirus lockdown.

There are obvious gaps to fill but Johnson says he already knows some of the players he would like to bring in – with full-time signings supplemented by loanees, so there may well be a few familiar faces returning to Plainmoor though that route.

Right now, however, there is no hurry – after all, we still don’t know if the play-offs will happen or even if next season will start on time.

Johnson said: “I am really pleased with that group of lads. The fact that they have agreed means they are happy and comfortable here and I can’t wait for that lot to get together again.”

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