Stefan Bajic says he was open to leaving on loan this month to seek first-team football after arriving at Bristol City under the pretence that one of the goalkeepers would depart the club in the summer.
The Frenchman joined Ligue 2 side Valenciennes last week until the end of the season six months after joining the Robins on a three-year contract. He made one senior appearance coming in the Carabao Cup loss to Lincoln and has featured regularly for the Under-21s.
Last week, Nigel Pearson admitted he had been disappointed by his lack of first-team opportunities with Max O'Leary taking the No1 spot and club captain Dan Bentley also ahead in the pecking order. Bajic's loan move represents an opportunity to play regularly as Valenciennes first choice stopper, particularly ahead of the European Under-21 Championship this summer.
Bajic, who is likely to make his Valenciennes debut on Saturday against Metz, spoke of his initial move to BS3 over the summer and his reasoning for ending the season in France. Speaking to La Voix du Nord, he said: "I finally chose Bristol because I wanted to discover a new country and a new way of work.
"And you have to know it has become harder for a football player to go to England because of Brexit. You need the authorisation to work there and last summer I had an opportunity and decided to go.
"I arrived just after wrist surgery so I was not 100 per cent and not available for pre-season. When I returned, the Championship already started and another goalkeeper supposed to leave was still there so I became number three.
"I could stay In Bristol but when Valenciennes ask me to come a few days ago I thought it is important for me to play. Bristol and I were okay that the best idea for me is to play.
"It was important for me to adapt to a new language and new behaviour on the pitch so I’m fit. Even if I’ve only played one game with the senior team, I think I have learned during these six months and I have improved. Now, I want to give it to Valenciennes.
"At my age, I have to play, I have to be important for my team, to be decisive for my team. I want to give myself a chance to play at Euros."
City were considering sending O'Leary out on loan during the summer with Bentley starting the season as the club's No1. A number of League One sides were interested in taking the Republic of Ireland stopper including Exeter and MK Dons.
However, with the club eager to allow time for Bajic to settle into a new environment plus his lack of fitness with a wrist injury, O'Leary stayed at City and has since usurped Bentley to the No1 shirt. Speaking last week on the reasoning for Bajic's loan, Pearson said: "He’s got the Under-21’s tournament this summer coming up with France. He’s been frustrated that when he signed here he came with an injury which we were aware of.
“In pre-season for instance both Dan Bentley and Max were fighting out for that opening spot that wasn’t available at that point. His opportunities have been limited and he’s done well in the Under-21’s when he’s played for us.
“It’s just in his interests and ours for him to go out. You have to remember a change of culture, learning a language, and all of those things together, and dealing with the disappointment of not playing is quite a big thing for a young man and he is young, especially for a goalkeeper.
“In an ideal world, we talked about loaning him to a team in England to start with but this opportunity came along and we just felt for football reasons and for his well-being to get back to playing in a familiar environment that would be a good outcome for him.”
City's goalkeeping department could see further changes this month with uncertainties over Bentley's short-term future. Wolves and Stoke are two clubs to show an interest with the 29-year-old entering the final six months of his contract.
Pearson has not ruled out his departure but conceded it would only happen if they receive and suitable offer and if they have a replacement lined up.
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