Birmingham City are going to be facing a crucial period over the coming months regarding the long-term futures of players who are heading into the final stages of their deals.
One player in particular that the Blues are going to have to make sure they keep an eye on in terms of their contractual situation is Jeremie Bela.
That comes with the initial three-year deal that he signed when he arrived at St Andrews in November 2019 as a free-agent coming to an end.
The versatile 28-year-old has been a crucial member of Lee Bowyer’s starting line-up so far this season. That comes after he initially found it difficult to force his way into the side when the former Charlton Athletic manager first took over the Blues partway through last term.
Bowyer has deployed Bela in an unfamiliar left-wing-back role so far this season in the Championship. The winger has adapted well to his shift in position and he has still carried a real threat for the Blues going forwards.
With Bela’s initial deal heading into it’s final stages, there might well start to be one or two sides that take an interest in potentially making a move for the 28-year-old in the next two transfer windows.
Therefore, Birmingham are potentially going to need to do something to try and ensure that Bela’s immediate and long-term future remains at St Andrews.
With all of that in mind, we take a look at what we know so far concerning Bela’s future and also whether a new deal is looking likely at this point…
What do we know so far?
As previously stated, Bela signed an initial three-year contract when he made the move to Birmingham in November 2019 as they searched for some extra attacking creativity partway through the 2019/20 season.
It did not take long for Bela to become a crucial member of Birmingham’s squad. He managed to be involved in nine goals in the Championship for the Blues in 30 appearances in the 2019/20 campaign.
The 28-year-old has continued to be a key player over the last season-and-a-bit as well.
It has been reported by Birmingham Live over the summer that Birmingham do have the option of a further year on Bela’s current deal that they can activate if they want to.
That means that the Blues will have a decision to make over whether they feel they want to activate their one-year extension option on the winger’s contract, or try to negotiate over the terms of a longer-term new contract for his services.
There has not been too many suggestions that Birmingham are going to imminently offer Bela a new contract at this stage.
So, at this point Bela’s long-term future will still remain up in the air until more is known about what the Blues intend to do regarding his contractual situation.
Quiz: Have Birmingham City ever been involved in these 18 scenarios?
Is a new contract likely?
Considering the important role that Bela has within Birmingham’s squad at the moment in terms of being their main source of creativity in the final third, it would be a major surprise if the Blues were not seriously considering offering him another deal.
However, what might be more likely at this stage is that they will activate their one-year option on his deal at the moment so that they ensure that he remains under contract until at least 2023.
That would get Birmingham some more time to consider whether they feel they want to commit to a new longer-term contract for Bela over the coming months.
You would imagine that the longer Birmingham leave it to sort out Bela’s future, the more other sides could start to take note of the fact that his deal is running down.
It would make a lot of sense for Birmingham to activate their one-year option on his deal and that is something that appears to be very likely to happen at this stage whilst he is in the side and performing well under Bowyer.