Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson on the touchline against Sheffield United: David Davies/PA Wire.
This summer is pivotal to the future of Bristol City.
This summer of 2022 but moreover, the summer of 2023 when no less than fifteen players are Out Of Contract (OOC). A lot of attention has been given to our promising younger players in Scott, Semenyo & Massengo with the latter being one of those OOC in 2023.
A new contract has been on the table for five months and City can’t afford to have another Nicky Maynard, Liam Walsh and Famara Diedhiou situation on their hands in letting a multi-million-pound signing leave for nothing. Simply put, it’s sign or sell this summer.
I’m not keen on the “let’s see that value on the pitch” approach because it very rarely happens as was adequately demonstrated when £5.3m signing Diedhiou left.
Other players OOC in 2023 include Dan Bentley, Tomas Kalas, Jay Dasilva, Chris Martin, Nahki Wells, Kasey Palmer, Zak Vyner, Taylor Moore, Tyreeq Bakinson, Max O’Leary, Nathan Baker and Antoine Semenyo.
Don’t panic as the club holds a one-year option on Antoine taking him to 2024. Although he’s also been offered a new deal, it remains unsigned.
Another number of younger players are also OOC (many with options of a further year) but are yet to play regularly for the first team. Some have enjoyed loan spells elsewhere with varying degrees of success.
This summer we have: Callum O’Dowda, Andy King, Louis Britton, Robbie Cundy & Timm Klose OOC.
We know Cundy & Klose have been offered new deals that remain unsigned & Britton has been released. It appears doubtful that the club will take up the one-year option they hold on O’Dowda, certainly not on current terms and King surely won’t be offered a contract following an injury hit period at Ashton Gate.
We know others appear to be “not on the bus” according to NP and “conversations have been held with those players”.
So, who’s going out & who’s coming in?
For the purposes of this exercise, I’ll assume we’re playing 3-4-1-2 or similar. Candidates for the exit are Palmer & Wells due to financial reasons & a lack of appearances. This was alluded to by Richard Gould in a recent Radio Bristol interview.
So probably no more than six Seniors out PLUS of course anyone OOC & not extended like O’Dowda, Britton and King.
I’m also assuming Massengo, Vyner, Moore and Bakinson who are all under contract, leave either permanently or on loan for their final season, I think we’ll need the following positions.
Predicted Players Out (Fee, Loan or Free)
Predicted Players Out (Released or Retire)
Rumours persist that Nathan Baker will be forced to retire after his head injury against Sheffield United
In terms of players in, the club have already been linked with:
· Mark Sykes-Oxford-RWB
· Elliot Moore-Oxford-CB
· Kane Wilson-FGR-RWB
· Marlon Pack-Cardiff-CM
This would seem to fit in with the positions I believe we need to strengthen & the market we’ll be shopping in:
· Right Wing Back
· Centre Back
· Central Mid x 2
· Creative Centre Mid
· Centre Forward
*This list assumes no one else leaves apart from the ten above
IF Timm Klose and Robbie Cundy sign that will initially mean we have six centre-backs plus Duncan Idehen, Ryley Towler, Zak Vyner & Callum Wood so another centre back signing will surely mean at least two if not three departing?
The same applies in central midfield with the likely departure of Massengo, King, Palmer and Tyreeq Bakinson. Will Joe Williams and Matty James be available for forty-six games next season? It’s doubtful.
Also key, will be our ability to fend off suitors for our better players including the experienced Andi Weimann and Tomas Kalas plus Antoine Semenyo. With strikers at a premium Semenyo has to be worth £20m to a Championship club with parachute payments (possibly Everton, Leeds, Watford or Norwich) or a newly promoted Premier Team.
An interesting summer, indeed.