By this own admission, Antoine Semenyo’s success this season has been a surprise.
The Bristol City forward has long been a talent that the Ashton Gate faithful were excited about but this term he’s transformed from bright prospect to key attacking option.
Under first Dean Holden and now Nigel Pearson, Semenyo has been an integral part of the City side with his performances turning heads elsewhere.
Reports have indicated that the likes of Crystal Palace, West Ham, and Wolves are keen on the Robins’ electric attacker.
But what has made him so in-demand ahead of the summer window and just how impressive has he been this term?
We put a spotlight on Semenyo’s 2020/21 campaign to find out…
Before 2020/21, Semenyo’s had never played more than 400 minutes in a season for City but this term he’s well on his way to surpassing 3,000.
Holden deserves a lot of credit for that, having made his faith in the young forward clear in the early part of the season and seeing it rewarded.
The raw talent and athleticism has always been there to see with Semenyo but this season he’s harnessed that into significant contributions in the final third.
His runs are cleverer, his decision-making more composed, and his final ball more effective. There is still work to be done but the 21-year-old’s five goals and five assists represent an impressive contribution in a side that’s been pretty poor going forward as well as a significant step in his development.
No side in the Championship has had fewer shots per game than the Robins – a painful stat given they were earmarked as play-off contenders ahead of the season and battled for top spot early on – but Semenyo has been a near-constant positive influence on the pitch.
In a side that has regularly lacked attacking fluidity and struggled to create, the forward has often taken it upon himself to drive his side upfield – as reflected by his average of 2.59 progressive runs per 90 minutes this term.
The 21-year-old has been more influential in the final third by picking up dangerous positions more often, averaging 3.02 touches in the opposition box per 90 – a stat made even more impressive considering he’s played out wide for much of the campaign.
The Robins academy product is by no means the finished article with his quality in front of goal (averaging 1.86 shots per 90 with 29.5% on target) and his delivery (averaging 1.22 cross per 90 with a success rate of 32.5%) areas that need to be worked upon to help him take his game to the next level.
Much of the qualities we’ve seen from Semenyo this year have always been there but as he’s matured, the forward has adapted his game to ensure that they allow him to have more impact for the Robins.
The prospect of watching him in a City side that has regained their attacking confidence and fluidity next season is an exciting one but given the interest in him, supporters may not get the chance to see that.
It’s no surprise that there are sides circling either because the 21-year-old has transitioned from someone that ‘could’ be a fantastic player to someone that ‘is’ on their way there.