Manager Nigel Pearson hoping to keep Nahki Wells at City
Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson has refuted claims made in sections of the British media concerning the future of Bermudian striker Nahki Wells, who is believed to be on his way out of the club.
Wells, the Bermuda captain, has fallen down the pecking order at the club and appeared increasingly likely to leave City this summer, with Bristol Live reporting earlier this week that the Robins were looking to recoup some of the £4 million they spent on him two years ago.
However, Pearson told the BBC in a subsequent interview on Wednesday that he would be happy to keep Wells at the club.
Wells, who turns 32 on June 1, has been used mostly as a substitute by Pearson this season as the team finished seventeenth in the 24-team Championship. One of City’s highest earners, Wells had just seven starts this season with another 25 appearances as a substitute.
He has one year remaining on his contract at City after joining the club on transfer deadline day in January 2020 under then manager Lee Johnson.
“I've spoken to four players who know that their futures aren't going to be with us and that doesn't include Nahki Wells," Pearson said.
"I'd love Nahki to stay with us. But there are players within our squad who still have another year on their contracts who have been told that their futures won't necessarily be with us."
Throughout the season, Pearson has consistently praised Wells for his attitude and commitment during training and with the Under-23s, when he put himself forward to play with the youngsters to ensure he maintained his match fitness.
However, despite Pearson's comments, City are understood to be open to letting the striker leave if they receive a suitable offer. The club rejected two loan offers for Wells in January, reiterating they were not keen on letting him leave temporarily to help strengthen a rival club.
It is estimated that keeping Wells on their books for another year would cost City approximately £1.2 million in wages, with lowering the wage bill remaining one of Pearson's priorities this summer, a position that has seen another player, Kasey Palmer, being told that he is free to leave.
The same question will be asked of the club’s record-signing Tomas Kalas, whose contract expires in a year's time and like Palmer and Wells, is expected to prove difficult to sell for substantial sums.
"I've already spoken about players who we may want to move on but we can't and the expenditure of that becomes a heavy factor in what we can and can't do. But it's not the player's fault. I'll never begrudge them for earning good money,“ said Pearson.
Wells was on loan at Queens Park Rangers when he joined Bristol City, having netted 15 goals for QPR that season.
“That situation is unlikely to change going into the next campaign and runs contrary to his status as one of the highest-earning players at the club with City simply not extracting enough value on the pitch for the investment they have made, and continue to make, off of it,” the Post stated in the article.
“The coming transfer window also represents the last opportunity for City to recoup something for the striker before his valuation begins to plummet before free agency next summer.”
Bristol Live added that Wells has not been informed of what his transfer status is, nor are City considering, at this point, the idea of the striker being available on a free transfer. Wells has not formally requested a transfer.
"My main focus is to do as well as I can for Bristol City, if things change and we know how football goes, if there's a change in the management's approach then of course we have to look at other opportunities but I love it here, I still want to play, I still love working with the manager,“ said Wells during an interview last month.
"I love my time here at this football club, I love coming into work and love playing for the club, love everything about it.“
In his first season at Ashton Gate, Wells was the top-scorer with 11 goals, while playing mostly in a different role as a winger. He contributed three goals and an assist in the last campaign.