With key attackers Junya Ito and Keito Nakamura away at the Asian Cup this month, January had all the makings of a challenging period for Will Still’s Stade De Reims side, but the strong play of the unheralded Reda Khadra has helped the Champagne side weather their absences.
Injuries would see him struggle for a place in the first team, though, and he would join Blackburn, then in the EFL Championship, on loan. He impressed, notching seven goal involvements over the course of the season, but a return to the English second tier last year, with Sheffield United, saw him on the periphery, despite the Blades eventually earning promotion. A January switch to Birmingham City saw him become a more central figure, and he notched four goals and three assists.
A move to Reims this summer would mean a chance to establish himself in the top flight, but it would also come with competition, as Nakamura and the impressive young Danish international Mohamed Daramy also joined the Champagne side.
All of this meant that Khadra would have a limited role in the team until recently. A starter in each of Reims’ last four matches across all competitions, he has helped his side to wins in four of those, including a challenging trip to Monaco last week that was handled with aplomb and featured his first goal for the club.
Two-footed, strong on the ball and incisive with his movements, Khedra is able to play as a second striker, on either flank, or as a number ten, meaning that his versatility and experience which belies his age can help continue to make him an integral part of the team even when Ito and Nakamura return. With increased options in attack for manager Will Still, Reims will scarcely miss a beat, and Khadra’s contributions are proving vital in that regard.