Nigel Pearson reveals why Bristol City sold Dan Bentley to Wolves
Dan Bentley said his goodbyes to Bristol City after three-and-a-half-years at Ashton Gate
and live on Freeview channel 276
Nigel Pearson has admitted that Dan Bentley’s move to Wolverhampton Wanderers was partly motivated by Bristol City’s continued efforts to reduce the wage bill.
The Robins sold their club captain to Wolves for a nominal fee earlier this week, bringing to an end a three-and-a-half-year association. Bentley joined City for an undisclosed fee from then Championship rivals Brentford in 2019.
The 29-year-old joined the club at a time where City had just missed out on the play-offs by four points, the closest they’ve got since 2008. In the same summer, Tomas Kalas joined for a club record fee, whilst Jay Dasilva and Kasey Palmer followed from Chelsea, with Han-Noah Massengo also joining.
There had been a hope that a strong recruitment drive under Lee Johnson would deliver the Premier League dream and Bentley joined as a part of that, but instead he has left to achieve his dream of top-flight football with a different team.
Bentley had been Pearson’s number one for a majority of his tenure but through the second-half of last season, and since October of the current campaign, Max O’Leary has displaced him which has allowed Bentley to leave.
"It’s an opportunity for Dan and we are trying to reduce the wage bill and there is an element of that," said Pearson when explaining the factors behind Bentley’s move to Molineux.
"It’s a great opportunity for Dan and something that suited all parties really as much as anything. Dan’s contract was up at the end of the season so he knew his situation and he’s one of the players I spoke to quite early about his own personal situation.”
Bentley’s departure was not greenlighted until City sought a replacement and they identified Russian goalkeeper Nikita Haikin as the man to replace Bentley. Haikin had been linked with a move to Blackburn Rovers, but a deal did not materialise after a loan deal collapsed for their back-up goalkeeper Aynsley Pears.
City had already allowed Stefan Bajic to join Valenciennes on a six-month loan after making only one appearance since his summer move from Pau. Bajic’s departure had initially given the thought that Bentley wouldn’t depart, but it has now revealed that he is one player that was told his contract would not be renewed in the summer. Bentley was out-of-contract and with nine players deals expiring, several were told to find a new club potentially in this window.
“It was also important for us to not leave ourselves short and the two deals had to be synced to have any possibility of going through. With Steff going out on loan which is a different scenario anyway as he needs games. How he is at the minute is he’s ready for us and it’s such a good experience for him to go back to France just given the experience he has had here so far.
"There are a lot of factors to how deals are done but the underlier for Dan’s situation is he’s one of our top earners so that can drive it to a certain extent."