Bristol City boss issues resolute response to Bournemouth offer for World Cup striker

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The Robins boss was pleased with how the in-demand striker has conducted himself

Nigel Pearson was pleased with how Bristol City star Antoine Semenyo conducted himself last week despite the uncertainty of whether he will still be at the club at the end of the month

In the build-up to the Robins’ last match with Blackburn Rovers, City had rejected two bids on Thursday from Premier League side Bournemouth, who may now look elsewhere. An offer of £8m with add-ons had been lodged before an increase of £2m came after their first attempt had been turned down with the club holding firm on their valuation.

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A report from The Athletic claimed that personal terms had been agreed with the Dorset club and that only a bid would need to be accepted for the transfer to go through. Bournemouth had wanted Semenyo to be in their squad to face Nottingham Forest but instead had to do without. Gary O’Neil’s men have been the front-runners for Semenyo, but it has also emerged that Championship rivals Burnley had lodged an official bid for the Ghana striker.

The January transfer window enters its last eight days, and in that time frame, City have one more match before their squad will fully know their position. A fourth-round FA Cup tie against West Brom at Ashton Gate, which supporters will hope is not the last time that they can see one of their most successful academy graduates after playing at the 2022 World Cup.

Speculation can be difficult for a young player, especially when it is linking you away to a move to the English top-flight, the most popular league in the world. Pearson, who Semenyo has flourished under after returning from loan from Sunderland in 2020, has been happy with how the 22-year-old has conducted himself with the current situation.

“The background noise is always going to be there,” said Pearson. “Whether it is criticism or people questioning aspects of your game, you’ve got to not really concentrate on all that c**p that is going on in the background because most of it is c**p.

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“It’s not necessarily coming from the majority of people, you have to block it out and concentrate on what the job is. As a player you’ve got to deliver on what you are selected to deliver, it is as simple as that. As a young man, he’s dealt with the situation very well.”

In a situation of continued speculation, Semenyo has been City’s leading player since the turn of the new year, involving himself in five of their nine goals in 2023. Semenyo was second to Andi Weimann in the year just past with 21 goal contributions and has recently discovered his goal-scoring touch.

He was in the right place at the right time to score City’s equaliser against Blackburn, as he scored on the rebound after Thomas Kaminski had initially saved Zak Vyner’s shot. With Bournemouth and Burnley’s bids failing to reach the club’s valuation, there were no qualms about starting him, and his manager was happy with how he played.

He said: “I thought he played really well and he showed all the qualities that I hoped that he would do that whilst he’s at the football club he is committed to us. “He can’t dictate what is happening elsewhere and whilst players are with us I expect them to play with total commitment and he did that today. I thought he played really well and deserved his goal.”

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