Article by Rupert Bateman follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/#!/williamstand
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Since scoring the Football League goal of the season on Boxing Day 2009 Nicky Maynard’s reputation has continued to grow. He is thought of as one of the top strikers in the Championship, and is especially rated by former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson.
Sven, the current Leicester City manager, lodged four bids for Nicky Maynard in the Summer, the last thought to be around £6million. However, all were rejected by Bristol City as they hope to keep hold of their star striker for at least another twelve months. With Maynard’s contract set to expire this June, many would have expected Bristol city to bite Leicester’s hand off when £6million was offered.
Bristol City are still hoping that Maynard will sign a new contract, and have given him the opportunity to become the highest paid player in the club’s history. However, if no contract is signed before next Summer, Bristol City will have to face losing their key player for nothing.
The fact Bristol City reject Leicester’s offers is even stranger when you consider that the club lost £11,808,085 in the last financial year, and are likely to announce similar losses come November this year. These losses are currently being funded by their rich shareholder/fan, Stephen Lansdown. Lansdown has however said on a number of occasions that his aim is the make the club self sufficient as he will not always be able to keep the club afloat. And part of being self-sufficient in the Championship is bringing in young talent on the cheap and selling them on for a profit. Maynard was purchased by then Bristol City manager Gary Johnson in 2008 for £2.25million, and when you consider Bristol City’s current record sale is £3million for Ade Akinbiyi back in 1999, it shows just how much £6million would mean to the Robins.
The reason for holding onto Maynard is a very simple one though: ‘They need him’. After scoring 20 league goals in the 2009/10 season and helping Bristol City to secure a mid-table position, he was hoping to push on and improve on that figure for the next season. However, he broke down in pre-season with a serious knee injury and was forced to sit out the majority of the next campaign. It wasn’t until mid February he returned, and with the club sitting in 19th position, his return could not have come soon enough. He scored in his first start of the season at Watford helping City to a 1-3 victory. In just 13 games, he helped City to safety as they finished in 15th position, scoring six along the way.
Maynard has started this season where he left off, scoring three goals in five starts. In a team which struggles to score goals (only one other goal has been scored so far), Maynard’s uncanny ability to score goals out of nothing has clearly been valued higher than £6million by Keith Millen and the Bristol City board.
If January arrives and Nicky Maynard has still not signed a contract, Bristol City may be forced to sell their prized asset. If that is the case, they have a number of other options available. Last season’s top scorer Brett Pitman made the quick step-up from League Two last season, and at just 23, could go some way to filling the void left by Maynard. Bristol also have the much travelled Jon Stead in their ranks. So there is some depth there should Blackburn come in with a bid that would help Maynard achieve his dream of playing in the Premier League.
Just as Bristol City will have a choice of strikers, Maynard may have his choice of clubs. Everton are in need of a striker having sold both Yakubu and Jermaine Beckford (who was Sven’s back-up to Maynard this Summer). Newcastle also have the £35million they received from the Andy Carroll transfer available to spend (a player that Maynard outscored in the Championship two seasons ago).
There is little doubt Nicky Maynard could cut it at the top level, and had it not been for his career threatening injury last Summer, we would most likely be watching Maynard on Match Of The Day, and not The Football League Show.
Although he would have preferred a move away from Bristol before the transfer window closed, City’s record signing is likely to be granted that move come January should a Premiership team come in for him and take a risk, a risk which would most likely bring dividends to whoever takes it.