Given the quality of his performances since joining the club, it’ll be no surprise to many Bristol City fans that a Premier League club is sniffing around goalkeeper Dan Bentley.
According to the Bristol Post, Southampton have had scouts at Ashton Gate monitoring the Robins shot-stopper, who has been one of their standout players once again this season.
It looks likely to be a busy summer for City, in what will be Nigel Pearson’s first transfer window in charge if he extends his stay in Bs3.
A fair bit of squad turnover is to be expected but seeing Bentley leave is unlikely to be in anyone at Ashton Gate’s plans.
We’ve examined what the fallout could be should the Saints snap up the City number one…
City lose one of their most consistent players
First and foremost, the Robins would be losing one of their best players over the past few seasons.
Before his arrival, goalkeeper was an unsettled position for City but he quickly cemented himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet after his arrival in 2019.
The Robins backline has not been the strongest in the two seasons but Bentley has been consistent throughout – very rarely making mistakes and often winning City points in games which they could and perhaps should’ve lost.
For Pearson, it’ll be a blow to lose the stability that the 27-year-old brings as he looks to build his squad.
Max O’Leary gets his chance as the Robins’ number one
One major positive for City is that they have a potential successor in waiting, in the form of O’Leary.
The academy product has played second fiddle to Bentley this term but looked more than comfortable when he has filled in for him, either due to injury or rotation, keeping three clean sheets in his six appearances this term.
O’Leary was handed a big new contract back in October and seems to be seen as the club’s future number one, so if the 27-year-old were to leave you feel City already have a suitable replacement in the squad.
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The search for a new back up is on
Assuming O’Leary becomes first choice, City will be on the look out for a new back-up.
Joe Wolacott, who has spent time on loan at Swindon Town this term, would seem the natural candidate but given their new number one would be just 24, the South West club may look to bring in someone with a bit more experience as cover.
Pearson will have more money to spend
Bentley’s current contract is set to expire in 2023, which means that City will be in a fairly strong negotiating position should Southampton look to sign the Englishman in the upcoming window.
What that means is that it will take a fair sum to prize him away from the Robins, which in turn should give Pearson – assuming he extends his stay in Bs3 – more money to spend as he looks to build his squad.
Though losing Bentley is unlikely to be popular among the Ashton Gate faithful, there’s no denying that financially it could be beneficial.