Nigel Pearson has revealed spoken personally to Antoine Semenyo after confirming that Bristol City had received bids from both Bournemouth and Burnley.
The Robins had reportedly rejected two transfer bids from the Cherries on Thursday with an offer of £8m in the morning which was later followed up by £10m in the afternoon. City’s two refusals have put the Dorset club off for the time being but could return later in the window after exploring other targets.
Bournemouth secured the signing of Dango Ouattara from Lorient, but would have pushed ahead and signed Semenyo anyway, and had hoped to have him involved this weekend. Semenyo instead will be preparing for City’s Championship clash with Blackburn Rovers and will be involved in the 18-man match-day squad.
Pearson said: “He gets absolute clarity from us and, as his manager, I’ve had many conversations with him right the way through from the summer with him being injured, build up to the World Cup and, of course, speculation about the window. I’m as transparent as I can be, I always keep him up to speed with how I see the situation and we see it as a football club.
“We try and be as open as possible but, of course, one of the factors that people don’t always necessarily take account of, in the way it really works, is the feelings of the player so it’s difficult for young players, who are ambitious when there is, not just speculation, but actual, real interest and there has been.
“We’ve received offers of a fashion from Bournemouth and Burnley too,” revealed Pearson. And there is speculation about other clubs. It can be potentially very unsettling for players and that’s why I very much believe in being as frank and open as possible.
“Antoine is a young man who’s had a pretty good couple of years now, on a personal level in terms of breaking into the side and showing not just potential but his ability to perform at a very good level.
“The one thing he’s working harder to do now is scoring more goals and, like many forwards, he’ll go through spells of achieving that but even when he’s not doing that he’s still a real handful.
He added: “We know we’ve got a talent in Antoine at the club but we need to protect our interests as a football club and if we get to a point where a deal is accepted that it’s done in the right way. Until that point, Antoine is our player.
“What I would say about him is he’s a really honest player, honest person and he’s dealing with it as well as he can but speculation can be unsettling.”
Semenyo has rediscovered his form and has scored three goals in his last four matches with a positive performance against Swansea City, amid rumours of interest from Championship rivals Burnley. His upturn in form has coincided with interest from other clubs, but whilst he is a man in demand, he is also not a priority target. The Clarets have numerous transfer targets, including Michael Obafemi from Swansea City. South Africa international Lyle Foster is the newest name to be linked with a move to Turf Moor with a £7m bid reportedly rejected for him.
It’s a double-edged sword for Semenyo, who in one way could see the speculation surrounding his future as a positive given the list of Premier League clubs queueing up to sign him, is a sign of his obvious ability. Semenyo has full clarity from Bristol City and Nigel Pearson over where they stand, but the prospective buying club can sometimes unsettle a situation.
With 11 days left of the January transfer window, City have two more games left before the registration period closes on the 2022/23 season. Semenyo’s importance of the team means it is unlikely that he would be left out of a squad for a match unless a bid had been accepted and a deal was at an advanced stage.
Pearson said: “It’s something that’s been discussed and if the deal was close to being done then I think that would be the bigger problem but, as we stand at the moment, that’s not the case and I think it’s important that, as I’ve said, I’ve spoken with him and I’ve been as frank as I can be and also a realistic as I can be. The realism that’s involved in situations like this would be, for instance, speaking to a player and saying, ‘look, you have to get your head around the fact that something might not happen in this window’ and that is a possibility of reality.
“But of course, if a deal materialises which is acceptable to both parties, that’s a critical part of this. I’ve dealt with players who are not entirely happy in the past and it’s a part of football that you have to be able to work with players who have been unsettled.
“But clearly it’s in everybody’s interest, for all parties, to be engaged with what you’re trying to do and that’s we want all players to play well for us and be successful for us. We want to keep our best players, but it’s not always possible. So we’ll see where it goes and until we get to a point where our valuation is met for a player, then they remain our player until that changes.”