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Nottingham Forest: Transfer targets to keep them in the Premier League

The party isn’t quite over for Nottingham Forest after their dazzling promotion to the Premier League in May, but the hard work behind the scenes is already well underway.

Steve Cooper’s side are back on the top flight not a minute early after returning from a 23-year absence after beating Huddersfield Town in the Championship play-off final in May.

But while Cooper is eager to reward his stars who have led them back to the Premier League, the reality is biting and it’s likely Forest will have to land a lot of recruits if they are to keep their place among England’s elite after a year.

Nottingham Forest is back in the Premier League after winning the Championship play-offs

Nottingham Forest is back in the Premier League after winning the Championship play-offs

Norwich City in recent seasons is an example of how spending little and keeping faith with mostly champions winners can lead to miserable campaigns in the Premier League.

But teams can also go too far, with Fulham also heading straight back down in 2019, despite a massive series of inbound transfers totaling £100million.

So a balancing act has to be struck, but where are the key areas Cooper needs to address to keep the Premier League cameras in the City Ground after 2023?

Manager Steve Cooper is now eager to make some purchases over the summer

Manager Steve Cooper is now eager to make some purchases over the summer

A major concern for Forest’s next term is where the goals will come from. Admittedly, star player Brennan Johnson scored 16 goals when he missed the lead as Lewis Grabban and Sam Surridge came in with 19 between them.

Grabban was the most used striker, but he is now 34 and has spent much of his career in the second tier. His only top-flight appearances came with Norwich City, where he struck once in six games before a year at Bournemouth saw him fail to score at all in 18 games.

Similarly, Surridge also failed to regularly find the net during his Premier League years with the Cherries, so it’s no surprise that one of Forest’s first priorities this summer has been to bring in a striker.

Encouragingly for Cooper, this has already been completed with a club record £17.5million for Nigerian and former Liverpool forward Taiwo Awoniyi of Germany’s Union Berlin.

Taiwo Awoniyi will arrive as a record transfer from Union Berlin to boost the attack

Taiwo Awoniyi will arrive as a record transfer from Union Berlin to boost the attack

This may be enough for now on the offensive, given the other parts of the squad that have to be tackled with limited resources to spend, but Cooper could also consider putting Aston Villa striker Keinan Davis back on loan after scoring five goals. the 24-year-old from 15 games last term to act as further cover. Out of favor Everton striker Moise Kean has also been linked.

Grabbing a new goalkeeper shouldn’t have been a priority for Cooper, but Brice Samba’s impending exit has forced him to loot the market.

Samba still has a one-year contract with City Ground, and while he was a reliable No. 1, contract talks have stalled and he now appears poised to join Lens.

However, Forest has been quick to find a replacement and is looking for Manchester United’s Dean Henderson, who impressed at the highest level with Sheffield United during the 2019-20 season.

Dean Henderson expected to switch from Manchester United

Brice Samba is likely to leave Forest this summer

Dean Henderson (left) is expected to replace Brice Samba (right) in the goal set to leave

Cooper will likely remain confident with his 3-5-2 system for next season and now the hunt for a right-back will begin.

Djed Spence impressed in the position he loaned out from Middlesbrough last season but has since sparked interest from more famous clubs, including Tottenham Hotspur, forcing Forest to look elsewhere.

Hopes of signing Spence aren’t quite over, but alternatives have been sought, with Liverpool’s Neco Williams and Manchester City’s Issa Kabor options

The left-back will also be a major concern for Cooper, who was scheduled to play the play-off final with central midfielder Jack Colback taking the position.

Max Lowe has returned to Sheffield United after a loan spell and there are ties to Nicolas Tagliafico of Ajax.

While star player Brennan Johnson (bottom left) is likely to stay, key figures such as James Garner (center left) have returned to their parent clubs after successful loan spells.

While star player Brennan Johnson (bottom left) is likely to stay, key figures such as James Garner (center left) have returned to their parent clubs after successful loan spells.

There are links to Manchester United’s Brandon Williams and although he struggled on loan at Norwich City last season, he can cover both flanks and is likely to remain an upgrade from Forest’s options.

However, United only seem eager to sell and have given the defender £10million.

Cooper also needs a boost in central midfield after the departures of two key loan stars from last season in Philip Zinckernagel, who has now been sold by former mother club Watford to Olympiacos, and James Garner who is looking to step up. with Manchester United.

Morgan Gibbs-White has fallen out of favor with Wolverhampton Wanderers, but showed glimpses of his quality in the Premier League and impressed at Sheffield United last season.

In a more defensive side of midfield, Forest has reportedly already contacted Arsenal regarding a transfer for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Roma, while Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic could see Premier League experience. add in the center next to Ryan Yates.

However, Cooper can be happy with his defence, which includes Joe Worrall

Scott McKenna will also play a major role next term

However, Cooper can be happy with his defensive combination of Joe Worrall (left) and Scott McKenna

The one area Cooper probably won’t be too worried about is his back three, with Joe Worrall and Scott McKenna likely to gain confidence in defense next term.

A third defender would be ideal to play the pivotal role of the three, yet Steve Cook has previous Premier League experience with over 100 appearances with Bournemouth.

It is clear that Forest will have to strengthen itself somehow across the board, especially as the loan deals are already weaker than the side that was surprisingly promoted last term.

You don’t have to go too far to see how much damage an undercooked side can do, with East Midlands rivals Derby paying a heavy price after rising without a structure in 2007 before finishing the next campaign with a record low of 11 points.

Fortunately, Forest is already taking steps to avoid a similar fate, but next season they will need a busy summer to keep their heads above water.

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