Competition to keep midfielder at Bristol City as Manning delivers . .
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Competition to keep midfielder at Bristol City as Manning delivers confident pitch.

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Bristol City have offered a new contract to the midfielder who is entering his peak years

Liam Manning understands that Joe Williams will be interested in other Championship clubs once his current contract with Bristol City expires, but he believes the midfielder is in the greatest position to continue his career in the West Country.

Williams was one of four first-team players out of contract at the end of June, but he has been offered new terms following a season in which the 27-year-old has produced his greatest form in four seasons with the Robins.

The former Everton academy product has made 44 appearances, 34 of which have been starts, with his 2,930 total minutes the most he’s had since the 2019/20 season with Wigan Athletic, and has brought his usual tenacity with added craft to the City midfield, with his consistency standing out, especially since Manning took over in November.

Williams had already stated a wish to remain in BS3, having joined the club for £1.25 million from Wigan Athletic in 2020, but the Robins’ bid will not be the only one on the table, as Manning is fully aware.

“When you look at it, yeah, you only have to see how he’s performing,” Manning said. “I think anyone performing to that level will have interest and demand but, sitting with Joe, he’s quite clear in terms of he knows how he gets treated, how he gets coached and he sees what we’re trying to do. At the minute I think it’s a good place for him.”

Williams appears to have overcome the injury troubles that plagued his first two seasons with the club, and considering his age and the form he’s demonstrated, his stock will perhaps never be higher as the season comes to a close.

There will not be many midfielders of his skill and experience available in the Championship free agent market, and while City may believe they are in the box seat, Williams has every right to test the market, as there will be other opportunities.

Manning, echoing his message when questioned about contract talks with Tommy Conway, believes Ashton Gate is the greatest place for Williams to continue his development.

“I have to say, I don’t massively get involved in those conversations,” Manning said. “I speak with the players, and I am honest with them about what I think and where I am, and I mentioned Tommy over the weekend.

“Joe has done exceptionally well. He certainly had a sluggish start here in terms of game volume, but based on how he’s performed to a high level, he’s still in his prime.

“He’s still of an age and has a point to prove at this level, and he’s begun to demonstrate that in games when he’s shown moments of genuine greatness. We want him to stay, and it’s already with him.”

Given City’s summer priorities of adding talent in the final third of the pitch, including at least one striker and playmaker, Williams’ retention makes for a simple and hassle-free transaction.

Should he re-sign, Williams would join a central midfield core that includes Jason Knight, Taylor Gardner-Hickman, the incoming Max Bird, and possibly even Matty James, as Manning hinted earlier this week that the veteran could stay.

In that regard, that department appears to be set for 2024/25, but if agreements with Williams and/or James are not achieved, City will appear a little light, and additions will be required throughout the timeframe.

 

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