Nigel Pearson will need to get recruitment spot on at Bristol City this summer. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
The transfer outlay for this season wasn’t massive as the Robins dealt with the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, playing without supporters, and as such the club only exchanged a transfer fee for two players.
In what has been a small squad this season, which has faced defensive and midfield shortages, the club has steered away from the loan market.
For the course of the 2021/22 season, all the players who have featured have been contracted to Bristol City.
In one way that is a good thing, because rather than relying on someone else’s players, the club is giving vital first team minutes to their players.
The use of academy players has been one of the positives of what has been another unsatisfactory campaign.
So can we expect a change in how the club operates in the market next season? Well given less than six months ago, Pearson was against it, maybe not.
Back in December, before the winter window was about to open, Pearson’s take on the loan market was damning.
“To get players who are better than what we’ve got on loan is going to be hard, or it’s not going to be affordable,” he said.
“You’re probably going to get some players with an unproven track record who earn more than the players we currently have here.
“It doesn’t just work like the loan market is now important, the loan market is always important but I would prefer, wherever possible, to bring in players that are going to be our players.”
His comments weren’t necessarily ruling out a loan deal altogether but that instead permanent deals are his preference.
Given City may not have much money to deal with next summer, they may have to hope for a cash injection to recruit players or find some free transfers, but the loan market is something that needs to be considered.
The last time the club dipped their toes into the loan market, they had a fairly average experience. Alfie Mawson and Steven Sessegnon were both brought in, but Mawson struggled with injuries, playing just under a quarter of a Championship season.
Sessegnon was able to play more but again, he wasn’t a player that exactly made a telling impact at the club.
A year before, they had arguably the strongest right-back they had in years in Pedro Pereira, but also suffered the agony of a long-term injury to Benik Afobe, as well as the short stints of Filip Benkovic and Markus Henriksen.
For City’s Championship rivals, using the loan market has helped them in their ambitions, look at Swansea City for example who brought in Finley Burns, Hannes Wolf and Cyrus Christie. They are a club in a similar position, going through transition and now their status as a second tier club is all but secured.
If they are to go into the loan market then there are things to consider, such as what player they are kind of looking at. A centre-back is at the top of the wish list this summer but how many Premier League clubs have Championship ready defenders on their books?
Bournemouth brought in Nathaniel Phillips from Liverpool but he’s completely out of City’s league, whilst Ben Davies was loaned out to Sheffield United, again a high earner.
One club who City have dealt with over the years is Chelsea, who have given them the likes of Tomas Kalas, Kasey Palmer and Jay Dasilva, whilst six years ago, Tammy Abraham had a highly successful spell at Ashton Gate.
This season they’ve loaned out Levi Colwill to Huddersfield Town, as well as Jake Clarke-Salter to Coventry City, with both hugely benefiting from their experiences.
Another team that has given out defenders is Manchester City, sending Finley Burns to Swansea City, as well as Taylor Harwood-Bellis to Stoke City.
Now that’s not to say City should sign either player and there may be different plans, but if the loan market is to be considered then perhaps aligning themselves to a particular Premier League team could be of a benefit to them.
The issue that Pearson alluded to is probably paying a loan fee, as well as stumping up a high proportion of their wages, which almost feels like they are a permanent player at the club but without the security. So by finding a club that may see past the loan fee, they can save money in the process.
The key factor in whether there’s a change in their approach to transfers is what the ambition is of City next season, as if it is another year of consolidation then bringing in a loan player perhaps shouldn’t be a priority.
The current league position has them teetering closely towards the drop zone and if it wasn’t for points deductions for both Derby County and Reading, their situation could be worse.
So new faces will be needed and that is before any key departures, as a fresh impetus may change the outlook of the club.
But ultimately, it will come down whether City think there is a need to borrow other club’s players and whether is viable for them.