It’s nearly mid-January and there are still questions about Nottingham Forest in the transfer window: what is going on with FFP, where do they need to strengthen and who should they target? George Edwards looks at the possibilities
Transfer windows at The City Ground never seem to disappoint, especially of late. With ‘just’ 13 summer signings made last summer, complementing the 29 from the previous campaign, the turnover has been constant.
New gaffer Nuno Espirito Santo is well known for liking a small squad, coupled with the new and looming threat of Financial Fair Play, so it looks like this window — already almost half the way through — could be the quietest one for a while.
Forest will find out on Monday — as will all other Premier League clubs — whether they fall foul of the profitability and sustainability rules and face a points deduction, based on accounts for the 2022/23 season. In short, the Premier League rules state that clubs can make a maximum loss of £105m over a rolling three-year period, providing that they were in the league for this time.
Clearly, then, it is slightly different for Forest, who were only in the top flight for one of those three years. That figure falls from £105m to £61m as clubs are only allowed losses of up to £13m in the Championship, and £35m in the Premier League. Despite that juicy play-off bonus, the busy transfer dealings have left them close to the mark; the Reds hoping that the sale of Brennan Johnson last summer will keep them clear of any possible penalties.
So Forest would be reckless to dive head-first into the transfer window without knowing what the future holds. But a possible points deduction is all the more reason for the Reds to make some smart and needed acquisitions, so where should they be targeting?
Goalkeeper is the obvious place to start, with neither Matt Turner nor Odysseas Vlachodimos really impressing. The former has struggled with his feet and has never really seemed assured, while the latter didn’t do much to make his month stint as number one stand out; his reluctance to start fast breaks something that won’t work in Nuno’s regime.
A Keylor Navas return has been touted once again, a move going down well with many sections of the fanbase. Questions must be asked of this, however, as the ‘keeper made four mistakes in six games at one stage last year, his failure to push saves away from danger was also a flaw. Aaron Ramsdale might be an ambitious shout on loan, but so was the signing of Navas, while Wolves’ Jose Sa has also been linked.
Nuno has also lost Moussa Niakhate and Willy Boly to AFCON, with Joe Worrall, Scott McKenna and Felipe also rumoured to be departing. The Reds may survive with what they’ve got, but a centre-back acquisition would likely be welcome unless they were to give Andrew Omobamidele a shot, a move that would feel like a new signing.
The next point of call would be on the wings, as there seems to be adequate cover at full-back and in midfield. Anthony Elanga and Callum Hudson-Odoi are the main wide options, with Nico Dominguez impressing against Manchester United, Morgan Gibbs-White able to fill in and Divock Origi seemingly being trialled there. There are many impressive candidates from the Championship, Crysencio Summerville amongst them, but potential loan signings could include Liverpool’s Kaide Gordon.
Finishing up front, Forest could end the window with just Chris Wood, should Taiwo Awoniyi fail to return and the above-mentioned Origi end his loan spell at the City Ground. An obvious place to strengthen then, but who is out there? Given there is little Premier League action for Forest this month, it’s not surprising there isn’t much in terms of concrete interest.
West Ham’s Divin Mubama is someone the Reds could target, the exciting young striker given little game time by David Moyes this season despite impressing in preseason. The 19-year-old could be available on loan or for a reduced fee, with his contract up at the end of the season. Forest have also been linked with a Premier League return for Roberto Firmino — although wild speculation and agent talk is rife at this time of year.
Most of the noise is in the opposite direction, with many of Forest’s bloated squad linked with outgoings. AFCON has left the squad six players short, but the Reds will certainly be looking to trim the squad rather than add to it.
Reports suggest that Nuno would rather only bring in up to three new players, with Scott McKenna, Joe Worrall, Cheikhou Kouyate, Ethan Horvath and Wayne Hennessey reportedly up for sale. For once, Forest fans may be able to wake up on February 1st to a clear notification screen rather than the normal influx of eight deadline day signings, although who knows with Nottingham Forest?
The next few weeks could indicate how successful the rest of the season will be.