The signing of Kal Naismith took many by surprise as Bristol City made a strong move to shore up their backline ahead of the 2022/23 Championship season by signing Luton Town’s reigning Player of the Season on a free transfer.
Clearly, the Hatters were not pleased with the way the business was conducted but that is the risk that is run when players are allowed to see out their contracts – something the Robins know only too well.
It’s a statement signing for the Robins, making many sit up and take notice of a side that underwhelmed in 2021/22, but more will be needed to convince they can find a consistency that was clearly lacking last season.
While Naismith’s arrival strengthens a defence that was a problem area for City last term – conceding more than 21 of the other sides in the Championship – it also signals a commitment to a back three moving forward.
The Scot, once a winger before converting into a full-back and now a centre-back, thrived in that formation for Luton last season and would be a strange signing to make if Pearson plans to switch to a back four.
With the Robins seemingly committed to the system that they finished the 2021/22 campaign in, to some success, the conditions appear to be right for their next target to thrive.
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According to Bristol Live, City have tabled an offer to out-of-contract Forest Green Rovers right wing-back Kane Wilson as they look to land the 22-year-old on a free transfer as well.
Wilson won the EFL League Two Player of the Season award for 2021/22 after a campaign that saw him make 17 goal contributions from the right flank and help Forest Green secure promotion to League One for the first time.
He could be a real asset for City if used properly and solve the issue they’ve had on the right side of defence for some time.
That said, there are question marks about whether he has the defensive attributes to function as a right-back at Championship level so signing him to play such a role would’ve been a waste.
He’s at his best when he’s given the freedom to get forward and take on opposition defenders in the final third not tracking opposition wingers in a back four.
Landing Naismith indicates Pearson’s commitment to a back three and that should allow the Robins to get the best out of Wilson next term.
The race for the defender is not won yet – though Nottingham Forest’s promotion to the Premier League does appear to have lessened the competition – but City’s latest signing illustrates that they’re committed to a formation that should get the best out of their next target.