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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 12:58 GMT
Royals swoop for Harper
James Harper
James Harper has been tracked by Alan Pardew
Reading have signed young Arsenal midfielder James Harper for a "substantial" six-figure fee.

The 20-year-old midfielder has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract, keeping him at the Madejski Stadium until 2005.

Harper will go straight into the Reading squad for their home clash with promotion rivals Rotherham on Saturday.


When I found out he was available I had no hesitation
  Reading boss Alan Pardew
He was also due to play for the reserves after completing his signing on Wednesday.

Royals boss Alan Pardew has long been an admirer of the midfielder, who played three games on loan at Cardiff earlier in the season.

"He is a player whose progress I have followed for the last two years," Pardew said.

"I never expected him to become available, because I thought he would be a big player for Arsenal.

"When I found out he was available I had no hesitation - he has athleticism and an arrogance on the pitch that a modern footballer must have.

"He is also highly ambitious, and that fits in well with me."

Chairman John Madejski added, "In the past 18 months, Alan Pardew has made some excellent dealings in the transfer market and I am sure that this will prove to be another very astute signing."

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