It had been an extremely quiet summer for Bristol City until about eight days ago, Bath City’s Robbie Cundy had been the only signing, while fans had seen Lloyd Kelly leave the club to join Bournemouth.
A permanent deal for Chelsea left-back Jay Dasilva saw the Robins’ transfer window burst into life and six new additions arrived at Ashton Gate in a week, with fellow Blues defender Tomas Kalas joining for a club record fee, while goalkeepers Daniel Bentley and Rene Gilmartin, and midfielder Tommy Rowe arrived on free transfers.
Another player to join Lee Johnson’s squad amongst the flurry of signings was Colchester United midfielder Sammie Szmodics, who signed a three-year deal with the Robins after seeing his contract run down with the U’s.
A graduate of Colchester’s youth system, Szmodics made his debut against City at Ashton Gate in 2013 and went to make 168 appearances for the club, scoring 38 goals and grabbing 16 assists.
The attacking midfielder has taken his performances to new heights over the past two seasons, notching up 28 goals and 13 assists over that period and finishing as the League Two side’s top scorer in both campaigns.
Bristol City were not the only team interested in the 23-year-old playmaker. Leeds United and Derby County were among other sides chasing one of the hottest prospects coming out of the lower leagues this summer, and you could argue that due to all the attention he received in this transfer window he will be determined to prove he has what it takes to succeed at this level.
The 23-year-old has spent the whole of his career in League Two and League One, apart from a brief spell on loan in the National League, and he will surely be relishing the opportunity to test himself in the Championship.
Szmodics will be all the more eager to show he is up to the challenge given the terrible injuries that he has had to move past in his career.
The Englishman had ankle surgery after a season-ending injury in 2016 and suffered a season-ending leg break just after he had returned to action the next season, but says that they have helped make him the player he is now.
This seems like an ideal move for the young man. Szmodics is an energetic and creative young midfielder, so he should slot well into a City side that like to play expansive, high tempo football.
He is also joining a team on the rise. The Robins narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season but their eighth-place finish meant the 2018/19 season saw them improve their league position for the fifth straight season since their return to the Championship.
Johnson and co will be targeting the playoffs again this year and Szmodics will be relishing the opportunity to prove himself at the ground where he made his senior debut almost six years ago.