In a few games time, Birmingham City could be planning for the 2021/22 season if their Championship status is confirmed.
Not long ago their position in the division looked perilous, but the dismissal of Aitor Karanka and appointment of former player Lee Bowyer into the hot-seat has brought a fresh lease of life to the squad.
A run of four wins in Bowyer’s first six games as manager has propelled the Blues out of the relegation zone and even if Rotherham win their two games in hand, the Midlands club are in a stronger position than the likes of Derby County, who look to be the main club in danger outside of the drop zone.
A couple more points should mean Birmingham survive and then attention can turn to the summer, where the club don’t have too many expiring contracts to sort out.
The likes of Steve Seddon and Jon Toral’s futures remain uncertain, whilst Alen Halilovic may or may not stay for another season after his November arrival, but it’s some of the contracts that run out in 2022 that may need to be addressed urgently.
There’s a few key players who just have a year left to run, and one of those is an important defensive figure in Kristian Pedersen.
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The Dane joined in 2018 from German side Union Berlin and he’s gone on to be a star player for the Blues since his arrival.
Pedersen arrived as a left-back and that’s where the 26-year-old has spent the majority of his time playing at St Andrew’s, scoring four times in the 2019-20 campaign but he’s proven to be equally adept at centre-back.
Since Bowyer’s arrival, Pedersen played the first two matches as a left-back but following the manager’s decision to switch to a three centre-back formation, the Denmark international has been utilised on the left side of a trio and it looks like he’s flourishing along with Marc Roberts and Harlee Dean.
Looking at his stats for the season (via Wyscout), Pedersen scores well with a 55.2% success rate in duels won, he makes over five interceptions a game and also has a 63% success rate in aerial duels.
There didn’t seem to be any firm transfer interest in Pedersen in the recent transfer window, however Danish newspaper BT reported in 2020 that then-Premier League side Watford were prepared to pay £8 million for him.
With just a year left on his contract right now, it’s doubtful that any club would pay close to that for Pedersen – but the Blues can deter any admiring glances by slapping down fresh contract terms in-front of the Dane when their Championship safety is secured.
Would Pedersen accept it? There’s no guarantee, but Birmingham fans would probably rate him as one of their best players and he would need to be paid accordingly.
If he has other ideas though and wants to explore his options next summer, then realistically the club may not be able to do much – but putting that offer on the table should be Birmingham’s first port of call at the end of the current campaign.