Bristol City striker Nahki Wells’ future remains up in the air after no longer appearing as one of the first names on the team sheet for the Championship side.
The 31-year-old played in every one of the Robins’ 46 league games last term, but has been benched by the return of Andreas Weimann from his anterior cruciate ligament injury.
With that, the former’s future looks uncertain at Ashton Gate and the final week of the transfer window could potentially seal a sad ending to Bermudan’s career in south-west England after spending a semi-successful 18 months there.
He didn’t do a huge amount wrong last season, scoring ten league goals for Bristol City in what was a poor campaign overall for the Robins. Considering this respectable record, many people would have believed he would be one of the last people to be deemed surplus to requirements at Ashton Gate.
But in all fairness to the Championship side, they aren’t limited in personnel up top. Chris Martin, Andreas Weimann and Antoine Semenyo are all options Nigel Pearson could utilise, with Sam Bell, Tommy Conway and Saikou Janneh also recently emerging as potential candidates up top.
Martin, Weimann and Janneh have all enjoyed decent starts to the 2021/22 campaign, scoring two goals each and proving to be a real threat so far this season.
But it’s also safe to say Bristol City aren’t a team that have one main goalscorer.
Contributions from all their attackers will be needed if they are to climb up the Championship table from where they were at the end of the last campaign.
In fact, goalscoring contributions will be needed from right across the pitch, especially with Famara Diedhiou leaving the club on the expiration of his contract this summer. And this is why the Nahki Wells dilemma is a difficult one for City to deal with.
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Many Robins fans have been calling for a new forward to come in all summer. But is there much point in bringing in a new man unless he’s going to be the 20-goal per season striker they perhaps need to fire them towards a place in the top six?
Manager Pearson has already admitted he can’t afford to sign a striker of that calibre, so replacing Wells with another striker that has a similar scoring record almost seems pointless.
The fact he’s on the wrong side of 30 is also no problem despite Chris Martin approaching his 33rd birthday – because they have the likes of Bell, Conway, Semenyo and Janneh who are currently aged between 19 and 21.
Bristol City also have another advantage in their Wells transfer dilemma – and that’s the fact his contract doesn’t run out until 2023 after signing a three-and-a-half year deal on his arrival in January 2020. This ensures they aren’t under any pressure to cash in on him to avoid losing him for free.
The 31-year-old’s goals could still come in handy from the bench, with injuries and suspensions also coming into play during the season. And the fact they don’t have that ‘main goalscorer’ makes his presence more important.
This is why they should continue to monitor his performances until the January transfer window opens, when they will be in a better position to make a judgement over his future. It will also give them a few months to identify potential targets who will come in as a clear improvement on the reliable Wells.
At this stage of the current window, they might be hard-pressed to find cheap/adequate replacements for the Bermudan for free, another reason why this is something to address in January if they haven’t found their ideal man already.
After finishing in an underwhelming 19th place last season, they are unlikely to be a West Brom or a Fulham who are expected to be competing for promotion this season. Things should be taken slowly at Ashton Gate for the sake of their long-term success and stability – and this is the reason why they can afford to take their time over Wells.
There’s no need to rush. Unless they have already found their perfect replacement, they should put on the brakes and re-assess the situation in January.
Wells could potentially re-establish himself as a key figure during the time, because just about anything can happen in the Championship.