Coventry City transfer state of play as summer transfer window opens

Coventry City's players will be reporting back for pre-season in just a few short weeks when Mark Robins will be hoping the club's summer transfer activity ramps up. The club are currently busy behind the scenes while fans eagerly await news on new signings to gauge how the manager is going to strengthen and build his evolving squad over what is hoped to be an exciting summer of trading.

Although there won't be as high a turnover of players as last summer, when 14 left and 10 came in, there are a number of positions to be filled by at least four departures we know about, while question marks remain over a number of other players who have a year left on their current deals.

The Sky Blues have already made their first signing with the arrival of winger Raphael Borges Rodrigues from Australian A-League club Macarthur FC for an undisclosed fee, joining fellow wide man Ephron Mason-Clark, who has finally joined the club following City's £4.25m deal with Peterborough United in January.

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The recruitment department is hoped to be more proactive in this transfer window, rather than reactive to key losses, as it was 12 months ago when Viktor Gyokeres and Gustavo Hamer were lured away. Here is the latest transfer state of play at the club...

What Doug King has said:

“Look, I want us to get promoted. I am an ambitious man and I look at everything properly and if we can get our squad built on from the foundations and nucleus we have today in a great way then we will get on with it. And we are on it right now, believe you me. I have got way too many calls coming my way. So we’re chatting about it and we’re on it.”

What Mark Robins has said:

“I think there will be some reasonable recruitment and movement this time around, although I don’t see it being the number we had last year. But it won’t be insignificant,”

Who is leaving:

So far two permanent senior players – midfielder and skipper Liam Kelly and goalkeeper Simon Moore – have left the club as their contracts come to an end this summer. Kelly, 34, has wasted no time at all in getting himself sorted out, and last week joined newly-relegated Rotherham United in League One on a two year deal.

A third player, Callum O’Hare, is expected to follow them out as a free agent unless he changes his mind and decides to take up City’s offer of a fresh contract. But that’s highly unlikely and it's understood that the player is currently weighing up his options amid plenty of interest from higher placed clubs.

The club have also released Under-21s Dermi Lusala and Bradley Stretton.

Players who could attract bids:

Ben Sheaf is the obvious candidate following previous speculation linking him with interest from Luton Town, and more recent stories claiming Fulham and newly promoted Ipswich Town are ‘keen’ on City’s Player of the Season and favourite to take the captain’s armband following Liam Kelly’s departure.

Fans can expect another summer of transfer talk surrounding the former Arsenal prospect with ambitions to get back to the Premier League. Newly relegated Luton are reported to be set to test City’s resolve with an ‘opening bid,’ according to The Sun's transfer specialist Alan Nixon. The club are obviously keen to keep him and there’s no suggestion that he wants to leave. But we all know how it works, and every player has their price.

Other players who might attract attention could be Ellis Simms and Haji Wright given their impressive goal records, but the fact that they have only had one season with the Sky Blues and are expected to be even better next season means any interest is likely to be met with a firm ‘hands off’.

Ben Sheaf celebrates
Coventry City manager Mark Robins with Callum O'Hare

Any contracted players set to be surplus to requirements?

Matty Godden was clearly frustrated at his limited game time during the second half of the season and, as such, may well be looking to move on despite having another year left on his contract. The 32-year-old has given terrific service to the Sky Blues but is understood to be keen for more regular game time, and with Ellis Simms and Haji Wright ahead of him – both of whom bagged 19 goals last term – it’s unlikely to happen at City. Charlton Athletic have already been linked.

Ben Wilson, too, may well feel that after his stellar season of 2022/23 – when he established himself as City’s No.1, kept a record 22 clean sheets, won the Golden Glove and made the EFL Team of the Year – that he wants to move elsewhere as a first choice performer rather than playing second fiddle to Brad Collins. There is also a strong case for Robins to recruit another keeper, which would see Wilson slip further down the pecking order.

A third player, Jake Bidwell, is another whose future appears uncertain. Although a consistent and popular campaigner who won his shirt back off Jay Dasilva at left-back last season, it’s understood that Robins is keen to strengthen the position with a more dynamic, attack-minded full-back in the Van Ewijk mould. Bidwell almost moved to Birmingham in the January 2023 transfer window when City attempted but failed to sign Dasilva, so it’s not the first time his future has come into question.

The same uncertainty goes for the two lads who have been out on loan, midfielder Ryan Howley who has struggled to make an impact at Dundee, and the versatile Jack Burroughs, who, in contrast, has had a terrific spell at League One Lincoln. Both will return to the fold in pre-season when they will find out what plans the manager has for them.

State of play with returning loans:

City only had one loan player last season in centre-half Luis Binks from Serie A side Bologna. The 22-year-old has returned to his parent club after a mixed season in terms of appearances, having been limited to 15 Championship starts but featuring in 23 games in all competitions.

The defender, however, did impress both the manager and the fans when he did play and Robins has hinted that the door is open for him to join the club on a permanent basis, assuming a number of things fall into place. Binks wants to leave Italy and return to England on a permanent basis but, with two years left on his contract, he may well cost. His wages may also be an issue.

Robins said: “He’s a great lad who has been brilliant in the dressing room. The lads love him and he’s someone who we want to keep in touch with and see how things go. But that will come in the next bit, and depends on a number of factors.”

What positions will they be after?

City’s assistant manager Adi Viveash revealed recently in his exclusive interview with CoventryLive that the club will be looking to add top quality on the right wing to compete with Tatsuhiro Sakamoto next season. They already have Ephron Mason-Clark, of course, the Peterborough United winger they signed and were forced to loan back in January to come in and compete for the left-hand berth. Raphael Borges Rodrigues, meanwhile, could well be the man for the right flank. Although he has generally operated on the left, the predominantly right-footed player can operate on either side.

If, as expected, O’Hare leaves then another attacking midfielder/number ten will be required to come in to compete with Kasey Palmer and, depending on what happens with Matty Godden, City are likely to be in the market for another goal scorer.

Working on the theory that most managers have two players for each position, another centre-back will be needed. As stated above, Binks is an option but it remains to be seen what will happen.

Assuming Milan van Ewijk reverts to his more natural right-back role next season after filling in admirably for the injured Sakamoto, City may want to add competition for him, although the versatile Joel Latibeaudiere has played a number of games at right-back. But one suspects the manager sees him more as a centre-back – the position for which he was originally signed last summer.

Elsewhere, another dynamic central midfielder is likely to be wanted to add to the current mix, and don’t be surprised if a goalkeeper is brought in following an indifferent season from Brad Collins.

Any names linked?

City are understood to be interested in highly-rated Scotland Under-21 international Connor Barron who will be out of contract this summer. The 21-year-old Aberdeen midfielder has been offered a new contract but interest is mounting for the deep lying playmaker, with the Sky Blues and Swansea of the English Championship reported to be ‘keen,’ according to our sister title the Daily Record, while Bologna, the report claims, have joined the growing list of Italian clubs who are weighing up a summer move for the player.

Fellow Italian sides Cagliari and Sassuolo have already declared an interest in him but any offers would be subject to them securing their top-flight survival. Bologna have had impressive feedback on the midfielder who has been a standout in the Reds’ recent revival.

Meanwhile, it emerged back in January when City signed Ephron Mason-Clark from Peterborough that the Sky Blues have designs on a couple more of Posh’s players, as revealed by the Cambridgeshire club’s owner, Darragh MacAnthony.

In his podcast, The Hard Truth, the out-spoken chairman gave a fascinating insight into the negotiating process between himself and City owner Doug King’s “relentless” pursuit of Mason-Clark. The 47-year-old Irish entrepreneur said: “Doug asked for an option on one of my other players as well, because they like quite a few of our players.”

The most likely candidates appear to be left-back Harrison Burrows and defensive midfielder Hector Kyprianou, although the likes of midfielder Archie Collins, centre-back Ronnie Edwards and right winger Kwame Poku are other possible candidates who may be of interest.

Elsewhere, there have been reports linking the Sky Blues with interest in out of contract Preston attacking midfielder Alan Browne. The versatile 29-year-old midfielder has been offered a new deal to keep him at Deepdale, and it remains to be seen what the player opts to do.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield Town's attacking midfielder Jack Rudoni has been linked with the Sky Blues, with The Sun claiming the Terriers want a 'stunning' £10million for his services, which appears to have 'put off' Coventry.

And this week City have been linked with interest in FC Lausanne-Sport midfielder Alvyn Sanches, who is also a target for Celtic and Championship rivals Stoke. The 21-year-old is rated as one of the most exciting young talents in Swiss football and, according The Express, his impressive individual season has caught the eye in various parts of Europe, including in the UK where he Sky Blues are said to be among his admirers.

Elsewhere, City are reported to have splashed out £4.26million on Red Star Belgrade star Marko Stamenic, claims Serbian sports outlet The online publication has headlined the story as a ‘transfer bomb,’ saying it’s a ‘spectacular’ bit of business by the Belgrade club, otherwise known as FK Crvena Zvezda, claiming it has sold the holding midfielder for a ‘staggering €5m’ only a year after joining the club for free from Copenhagen.

The report says the 22-year-old New Zealand international was ‘one of the most responsible for Zvezda winning the fourth consecutive double crown’ in the Serbian SuperLiga’ – and the club’s seventh consecutive title.

And finally (for the time being at least), Belgian journalist Sacha Tavolieri, has claimed the Sky Blues are eyeing Mitchy Ntelo, who currently plays for Bulgarian club Lokomotiv Plovdiv and is reported to have been the subject of a €700,000 bid from newly promoted Russian Premier League side FC Khimki.

Tavolieri, who has 98k followers on the social media platform X, says his club are asking for around €1.2million for the player whose main position is striker, but who can also play as a right or left winger.

How many new players do City need and and in what positions? Tell us in the comments HERE