Bantams simply cannot afford to let Wells contract run down

Nahki Wells
Nahki Wells
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STEVEN PRESSLEY, he of the ‘dark ages’ slur when asked about Bradford City’s style of play following the recent 3-3 draw with his Coventry City side at Valley Parade, may not agree.

But there are fewer more satisfying sights for Bradfordians than Nahki Wells and James Hanson in full flow, working in tandem up front for the Bantams.

Since first being paired together in the final months of 2011, City’s very own little and large have developed a near telepathic understanding.

Hanson’s 6ft 4ins frame combined with the predatory instinct of Wells have been a major factor in why Bradford have enjoyed such a successful time of late.

That much was evident last season, the pair plundering 41 goals between them as City reached Wembley twice and ended their six-year stay in the basement division.

A live national audience had that point reinforced earlier this month in the televised six-goal thriller that left Pressley all shook up at the final whistle, as the Coventry chief squared up to Phil Parkinson.

All three of the Bantams’ goals that Sunday afternoon came from the boot of Wells. And all three were created by Hanson, the first two coming via trademark flick-ons before the tall striker hustled Jordan Clarke into the handball that led to City’s stoppage-time equaliser from the penalty spot.

Even on Tuesday against Notts County – when Wells, pictured, was clearly still suffering with the after-effects of the sickness bug that had seen the Bermuda international sent home from training the previous day – the pair came within a whisker of combining for the first goal.

As per usual, Hanson won the ball in the air and Wells showed great anticipation to nip ahead of defender Manny Smith and poke a shot goalwards that, unfortunately for Bradford, not only beat Bartosz Bialkowski but also the post.

It was another illustration of how integral to City’s chances of remaining upwardly mobile the strike duo have become.

It also underlined just how much of a blow losing either man would be, something that is not as unlikely as maybe some fans think.

Not with Hanson’s contract set to run out next summer and Wells, who has an additional year on his current deal, wanted by a host of Championship clubs.

Mark Lawn’s admission in Tuesday’s Yorkshire Post that both City and Wells could have big decisions to make come the January transfer window may not have gone down too well with supporters who cannot countenance the thought of their hero leaving.

But it is a fact of life in modern football that once a player starts to approach the final year of a contract, his value begins to drop.

Wells will have 18 months remaining on his current deal when the next window opens and there seems little hope of agreeing an extension. The player himself has made that clear, telling the club hierarchy that he wants to concentrate on his football for the time being.

Whether that will remain the case for six months or even longer is unclear but the bottom line is with each passing day Wells is edging closer to being able to leave for nothing in the summer of 2015.

Such a prospect is one Bradford simply cannot afford. Last season’s two Wembley trips may have swelled the Valley Parade coffers but this is a still a club where every penny counts.

Missing out on the £2m-£3m fee that the national media this week touted when following up the Yorkshire Post interview with Lawn would be a massive blow.

Lawn is more aware of that than anyone, hence why the joint-chairman said in these pages on Tuesday: “If Nahki does leave, he won’t do so on the cheap.”

Some supporters seized upon this comment to suggest that Lawn was openly touting Wells for business in January.

That was not the case, with it being made clear that the club would love nothing more than the chance to sit down and talk with their prize asset.

Equally, though, Bradford have to safeguard their own financial future and if that means cashing in come January then so be it.

At least that way, money will be available for Parkinson, whose signings so far have been impressive, to bring in a replacement and keep Bradford moving forward.