An early statement of intent? Pisano and Diedhiou sign!

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After a long period of speculation on social media, the signings of Eros Pisano and Famara Diedhiou have been confirmed. Pisano, an Italian right-back with experience in his home nation’s top flight, opted to reject a new contract with promoted Serie A outfit Hellas Verona to join City, whereas Diedhiou, a Senegalese international striker, transfers from Ligue 1 club Angers SCO for a club record fee of £5.3m.

Last season the right-back position was an issue for City. Sunderland-loaned Adam Matthews clearly didn’t want to be at Ashton Gate and this lack of commitment was clear in many of his performances. Matthews’ poor attitude left Lee Johnson with a choice between inexperienced academy graduate Zak Vyner and injury-prone Mark Little for the second half of the season. Despite Little’s form improving towards the end of the campaign, he was not offered a new contract and has since signed for Bolton Wanderers. Vyner’s lack of familiarity with the Championship meant that there was a real need for an experienced right-back option and Pisano, on paper at least, appears to be the answer.

Even since the departure of cult-hero Bradley Orr in 2010, the right-back position has been a problem. Johnson acknowledged Pisano’s qualities, saying in an interview that “he’s his own man, but he’s similar in style to Orr”, with the head coach in particular citing his leadership and physicality. Pisano is a promotion winner in Italy and his experience in these situations will prove an invaluable trait if City are to push in the next two seasons.

With Tammy Abraham’s loan expiring, Johnson had a huge task on his hands. Matty Taylor, although a fine team player, does not seem the 20 goals-a-season striker needed to push for promotion in this division. Furthermore, Gustav Engvall’s future still remains precarious, despite the young Swedish striker agreeing to leave his loan to join up with City’s pre-season camp in Tenerife. Thus, there seemed a need for reinforcements in attack. Bosnian target-man Milan Djuric requires a natural goal scorer alongside him in attack to make the most of his hold-up play and, on first viewing, it seems that Diedhiou could be the ideal partner.

When he was aged just 22, Diedhiou finished as the Ligue 2 top-scorer in 2015/16 with a remarkable 22 goals for Clermont Foot, a record superior to former Bristol City striker Jonathan Kodjia, who found the net 15 times in the 2014/15 season. Kodjia was also 25 at this time, further emphasising just how impressive Diedhiou’s haul seems.

Nine goals in 36 games may not seem fantastic on first sight. However, when considering that Angers only scored 40 in the whole league campaign, Diedhiou evidently did a good job, particularly given that this was his first season playing in France’s top flight. Whether that justifies a club record £5.3m fee remains to be seen, but on paper this is certainly a promising signing.

It is not only the fee which shows the progression Bristol City are making as a club. Lee Johnson also stated that there was “stiff competition to bring him in… not only from the Championship but from abroad as well”, emphasising the fantastic job that the recruitment team has done to make the signing. The fact that City have managed to achieve the signing ahead of ex-Premier League clubs such as Wolves, Reading and Fulham, who were reportedly interested in the Senegalese striker, shows that the club’s reputation is increasing.

Signings such as Diedhiou and Pisano are a real statement of intent ahead of the new campaign, and with a couple more deals rumoured to be close – what’s to say that City can’t push for promotion this season? After all, nobody expected a Huddersfield v Reading play off final last year…