Bristol City provide key update on futures of Antoine Semenyo and out-of-contract players

The current state of play of Bristol City and their ten out-of-contract players, who could leave for free next summer.

Bristol City have not offered any of their out out-of-contract players new deals yet, first-team manager Nigel Pearson has revealed. Ten senior players are due to see their contracts expire next summer.

The Robins are at risk of losing a chunk of their first-team squad with several important members unsure of their long-term future at Ashton Gate. City have been tasked with reducing the wage bill year-on-year and this summer moved players off the books.

Earlier in the season, Pearson tasked his players to justify why they are deserving of a new deal. Top scorer Nahki Wells, who has scored seven goals this year, is one of the most notable, alongside club captain Daniel Bentley.

A new contract had been put on the table for Han-Noah Massengo, but talks stagnated and the position of the manager is that his future lies away from the club. Massengo’s role in the team has been limited and had been excluded from the squad for the last three matches, dropping into the Under-21’s.

It is six months until players will be free to talk to new clubs in England, but clubs from abroad can begin to make plans in January. Despite the risk of losing their stars for free, the 59-year-old was keen to state that he is willing to be patient.

“Honest answer at the moment? No. It’s too early,” said Pearson when asked by a supporter appearing at the Fans Forum on Thursday evening. “It doesn’t mean that we have not been either internally discussing where we think they are at.

“There is a long way to go between now and the end of the season. I think in all honesty in terms of the financial climate of the game. It’s changed massively and so in terms of negotiating contracts of players who are currently here.”

Bristol City spent a record club fee of £8.1m to sign Tomas Kalas from Chelsea in 2019
Bristol City spent a record club fee of £8.1m to sign Tomas Kalas from Chelsea in 2019
Bristol City spent a record club fee of £8.1m to sign Tomas Kalas from Chelsea in 2019

The financial climate of football has changed and City is a prime example of that. Four players were brought to the club this summer and all arrived on a free transfer with only a nominal fee for Kane Wilson exchanged.

City were able to earn fees for Kasey Palmer and Tyreeq Bakinson from Coventry City and Sheffield Wednesday respectively, but both had been players on the periphery of the squad, rather than important figures.

Jay Dasilva is a regular in the first-team and has been ever present in the Championship this season. He had spent time out of the side last season and had looked set for a departure last January but has since cemented his place in the starting XI.

Centre-back Tomas Kalas, the club’s record signing back in 2019, is another player that City will have to decide is worthy of a new deal. Kalas has spent the last seven months out with injury and with the club expected to post losses of £25m, decisions on new contracts will be at the forefront for the person that replaces Richard Gould.

The club do have an option on academy graduates Antoine Semenyo and Zak Vyner, with the former subject of interest from several Premier League clubs and Scottish giants Celtic. Chris Martin, Max O'Leary and Timm Klose also have one-year extensions available.

New contracts usually are a signal of much-needed job security in a ruthless profession with an assumption that wages are increased. Pearson however believes that the majority of contract offers are likely to see a reduction in wage terms.

He added: “I don’t like talking about money but it’s inevitable you have to talk about it is that the trend in the last 12-18 months is players generally speaking get offered less than they are generally on.

“That whether they like it, I like it or anybody likes it or not is how it is going. It stands to reason with a squad of our size and with the number of players it is going to be an important summer for us with a number of players who are coming out of contract.

“I think it is important that they earn their next contract and whether that sounds old fashioned or not I am not bothered. It is the climate now we have to operate in and the players are getting their heads around that.”

Earlier this year, Callum O’Dowda was allowed to depart after a long period at the club for Cardiff City. The summer before saw Famara Diedhiou, Jamie Paterson, Henri Lansbury and Jack Hunt depart for pastures new.

For those who may consider leaving Bristol, the grass may not be greener for those potentially seeking a higher wage. The ex-Leicester City manager predicts that for teams across the Championship, the average wage has gone down.

Pearson added: “The players talk and they will be aware of players who have signed or friends they know who have moved on to other clubs that their earning pounds become less. The simple answer is no but it is more of a complex situation than I could just answer in just one sense. We have to have a very open mind on it.”