Nigel Pearson keen to avoid repeat of Famara Diedhiou saga as interest mounts in Bristol City stars

Interest is rife in three of Bristol City’s brightest talents but their coach has praised their attitude towards the speculation.

<p>Nigel Pearson says it comes as no surprise that his players are attracting interest. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)</p>

Nigel Pearson says it comes as no surprise that his players are attracting interest. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson says he is keen to avoid losing his key players for a pittance as speculation increases on his key players.

In recent weeks, Alex Scott, Antoine Semenyo, and Han-Noah Massengo have all been subject to interest from the Premier League and clubs from abroad.

The latter two are both out of contract at the end of next season which means key talks will need to be held with their representatives on extending their stay at the club.

Given how the Robins are unlikely to go either up or down in the Championship now, the team finds itself in a precarious situation where their better players may be picked up by clubs who are either in a higher division or hold more grand ambitions.

Speculation can sometimes affect a player’s mentality and their performance, especially for the age group that Massengo, Scott, and Semenyo find themselves in but there has been praise reserved in how they’ve conducted themselves.

Asked how the players have dealt with the rumours, Pearson said: “It’s really important to recognise that players in that sort of position that it’s alright showing maturity on the pitch because they are able to put in good performances, meaning they are able to deal with that external pressure and that is one of expectation.

“For somebody to say they’re not aware of links would be, I think, a foolish thing to say. They’ll all be acutely aware and we as a football club have to really think about our own situation.”

“What we can’t do where we’ve been the situation before as a club and that is players contracts running down and ending up with speculation whether they want to stay or don’t want to stay. It creates more negativity than it does than positivity.

“We are working hard and continue to work hard to hang on to our best players because that is how we will progress as a football team.”

The list of suitors for Antoine Semenyo is growing week-by-week and his agent has spoke out. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Pearson has all too well witnessed some of City’s best players leave for without a fee with the ongoing saga of Famara Diedhiou an unfortunate reminder of when things don’t go in their favour off the pitch.

Diedhiou, who claimed he wanted to stay at the club, eventually left the club on a sour note and joined Turkish side Alanyaspor on a free transfer.

Earlier in the week, Semenyo’s agent had stated that Gavin Strachan, the scout for Celtic that had watched over Semenyo, confirmed there had been dialogue between him and the Scottish club.

It was only an informal chat such as discussing Semenyo’s key characteristics as a person, as well as what he was like as a player.

However such discussions create a situation that makes it difficult for the football club to negotiate fresh new terms when situations are being created with other clubs.

And as such that can force the club to change their outlook on a player in which they may have to consider letting a player go rather than withstanding tricky negotiations.

As well as interest in the current trio, he expects for the remainder of the season there will be more players who might appear in the headlines about a possible move away.

He reiterated though that whilst they are contracted to the club, they are in the driving seat when it comes to deciding on their futures.

“What we can’t do is ignore market forces,” Pearson said. “If players or their representatives are being very stubborn about it then there becomes a threshold where you have to start thinking about getting the best price for that talent.

“Otherwise the investment you make in them both financial and time is one that somebody else is going to benefit from. It doesn’t change and that’s not to say that players are going to stay or go.

“It’s me having a business head and we need to protect our own interests. In the meantime the players mentioned, the Han-Noah’s, Alex Scott, Antoine Semenyo’s of our current team and there are more, who will attract interest from other clubs.

“We want to keep them wherever possible. Players and agents have various options and it’s natural. If their agents are being elsewhere and trying to drum up some interest, the players may be oblivious of the details of it. My view of it is that they are our players and they will go on our terms. If we have to lose them they will go on our terms.”

With City recording a loss of almost £40m, as well as reported losses of just under £500,000 a week, there may be an expectance to sell at least one of their prized assets this summer to balance the books.

As such, losing any of their best players would come as a frustration to the fans who want to see the best team possible line up in the red of City.

Communication with supporters and stakeholders of the football club will be key though in fans understanding the club’s decisions, admits the manager.

“We don’t want to be a selling club just to necessarily keep the club afloat. What that doesn’t do is give our fans any encouragement in what we’re trying to do is produce a side that is enjoyable to watch, will be successful, and have players that come through our system, that’s the ideal world.

Maybe that’s pie in the sky but it’s what we aspire to do. This current group of players who come through our system or have been in our system for a while are very promising.

“It’s promising signs for us, with every business and football shouldn’t feel it’s above that. We have to make decisions that are right for the business. What is important moving forward is that it is verbalised and people understand at least what the rationale is behind how we operate.”