Wolves and Stoke City on alert after Bristol City boss doesn’t rule out transfer

Stefan Bajic returned to France this week - just six months in to his stay at Bristol City - but why did the Robins make that decision?

Nigel Pearson said that it is in the interests of both Bristol City and Stefan Bajic for him to spend the rest of the season on loan with French club Valenciennes.

Bajic, who arrived the latest out of the four summer arrivals and is the last senior player the Robins have signed in both the summer and transfer windows, was shipped out on loan yesterday to the French second division. The 21-year-old has linked up with his former goalkeeping coach after they had held an interest in him before his move to Ashton Gate.

Signed from Pau on a free transfer, Bajic has made just one senior appearance in the first six months of his three-year contract. He featured in the 3-1 defeat to Lincoln City and that is his only involvement in a match-day squad, often missing out to Dan Bentley as a backup to Max O’Leary.

It has now emerged that before he was loaned out to his native France, a move in England was explored which could help him adapt to life in a new country. He will now ply his trade with Valenciennes, who are just a few points off of the play-offs.

"He’s been frustrated that when he signed here he came with an injury which we were aware of," Pearson said. In pre-season for instance both Dan Bentley and Max (O’Leary) were fighting out for that opening spot that wasn’t available at that point.

"His opportunities have been limited and he’s done well in the Under-21’s when he’s played for us. It’s just in his interests and ours for him to go out. You have to remember a change of culture, learning a language, and all of those things together, and dealing with the disappointment of not playing is quite a big thing for a young man and he is young, especially for a goalkeeper.

"In an ideal world, we talked about loaning him to a team in England to start with but this opportunity came along and we just felt for football reasons and for his wellbeing to get back playing in a familiar environment that would be a good outcome for him."

Bajic’s temporary departure from the club seemingly put an end to any chance of Dan Bentley also leaving, given the preference would be to have a valuable competitor for O’Leary. Bentley is out-of-contract in the summer and it unsure whether he is one of the seven players offered a new deal by the club in December

Championship rivals Stoke City had been linked with a loan move and the need for a new goalkeeper for the Potters increased when they sold Joe Bursik to Club Brugge. Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers had also been linked as they’d want to provide backup to Jose Sa. At 29, Bentley has made his intentions known that he wants to play in the Premier League, but ideally, that would be with City, especially given he captained the side before being dropped in October.

A second goalkeeper departure has not been fully ruled out however, with the stance remaining that the club does not want to be left without a back-up to O’Leary and that they could recruit a new goalkeeper should Stoke or Wolves meet their valuation.

"What it does do and there has been speculation about Dan’s position as well, how do we sit with that," Pearson added.

"We have two very good keepers at the football club. Max is playing well at the moment and we’ll see how things develop. I’m not ruling anything in or out. Dan’s contract is up at the end of the season, we’ll see if anything develops. We can never leave ourselves short, we always need to have the right cover.

"For argument’s sake if something happens with Dan in the last week-and-a-half, we’d need somebody else to come in, we’re never gonna leave ourselves short. It’s important to have conversations with players about where they sit. Their agents can talk to the club, they can do whatever they want."