Bristol City’s Championship season is on pause because of the World Cup, but work behind-the-scenes is ongoing. The Robins finished their latest period on a high with a goalless draw with Watford but their lowly position of 18th gives them room to improve.
City’s plans for the World Cup break is that players and staff will be afforded some down time to recharge their batteries after the fixture schedule was crammed into a shorter time frame. A behind-closed-doors friendly has been suggested to get players back up to speed whilst Nigel Pearson has admitted he could use this as a period to scout players.
Transfer business in the summer came in the form of four free transfers, highlighting that City do not have much to spend. Pearson’s own admission is that players will have to be moved onif they want to do business.
The January transfer window is a market that the club don’t usually explore but there is a keenness to do some business this time around. Richard Gould, the departing CEO, leaves at the end of January and his time of departure may coincide with some business being done.
Here, we have a look at the players who could leave the club in January, which could allow other players to come through.
Massengo’s time at Ashton Gate looks to be coming to an end after talks over a new contract stagnated. The 21-year-old arrived as a highly-rated prospect from Monaco in the summer of 2019 but it hasn’t worked out as much as both club and player would have liked.
Massengo was an unused substitute against Watford which was his first match-day contribution in seven matches. The Frenchman’s message to Pearson is he’s ready when he needs him, but it may be best suited if both parties could find a new club, which would be the best solution.
He is free to talk to clubs outside of England in January over a summer move, which would be a Bosman transfer. To avoid paying wages for a player that may not feature in a senior match-day squad, would it be best suited to find a loan club that would have an eye on securing him on a permanent basis?
With six months left on his contract and with no sign of extending his stay, clubs may be prepared to wait rather than pay a transfer fee. For CIty, they would unlikely recoup what they paid for him but they could at least reinvest Massengo’s wages in to the squad if they loaned him out.
Semenyo’s focus right now is on the World Cup after being called up by Ghana. The 22-year-old opened his account on the international stage with a goal against Switzerland in a warm-up match.
Qatar though could be a real window of opportunity for Semenyo for the clubs interested in him. City have helped him get to where he is now but all players have an ambition to play at the top level.
Several clubs are interested and now managerless Rangers are the latest team to have had an interest reported in the forward with a £5m bid rejected in the summer. Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Celtic are the other teams that are said to have had an interest.
Semenyo’s current deal runs out in the summer but is of the belief that there is a one-year option to extend his stay that may have already been activated. An extra year gives them more time to put the foundations in place to challenge for promotion, but this is a tough division.
Semenyo has re-sale value given he is young and is a player that plays internationally and playing at a World Cup could add a few millions on to what City could receive for him. He is a player that City could sell for a sizable fee to reinvest back into the team.
Benarous has yet to make an appearance this season after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury towards the back end of the last campaign. It was a major setback for a player that was making a breakthrough.
An ACL at his age is something that is hard to bounce back from immediately and with competition high in the midfield, it could be a difficult task to break into the first-team. City are not blessed by squad depth and so this could be a non starter, but a loan move could be what is needed.
A six-month loan move could be what is needed for Benarous to get back up to speed with the demands of senior level football. He played 11 league games last year which is one game shy of a quarter of a season and so there shouldn’t be any problems with any League One or League Two clubs lining up to take him.
Club captain Daniel Bentley has not played since a 3-0 defeat to Birmingham City at the start of October. He has been the back-up choice for Max O’Leary in the last eight games. Against Lincoln City in the Carabao Cup, Stefan Bajic was given his debut meanwhile Bentley wasn’t in the squad at all.
This is an interesting period for Bentley and O’Leary, who are both out of contract in the summer. The arrival of Bajiic means that it could be a case of one or the other when it comes to their long-term prospects.
O’Leary is four-years younger than Bentley, but that experience is what is needed in what is a youthful side. At the moment the Republic of Ireland international is the first choice but things can change.
Clubs don’t usually sign first-choice goalkeepers on a permanent basis in mid-season, so if Bentley were to leave, it would be interesting to see what options would present themselves to him.
Bentley is English and so a Premier League club could sign him to be a back-up goalkeeper to fulfil their quota of homegrown players. The 29-year-old has dreamed of playing in the top flight and having been a quality second tier goalkeeper, that could be his best route into getting there.