Nottingham Forest will be able to field two entire starting elevens of new signings once they confirm the arrival of former Tottenham right-back Serge Aurier. The Premier League new boys have already brought 21 new faces to the City Ground with the Ivorian set to be number 22 when he joins as a free agent. The club have also broken the British record for the number of players signed in one transfer window.
Forest have raised eyebrows this summer with lavish spending on a host of new faces to accompany their return to the top flight for the first time in 20 years. The Tricky Trees have spent around £146million on new players with a £26.5m, which could rise to near double that with add-ons, for Wolves player Morgan Gibbs-White their highest single expenditure.
The club have signed so many players that they could now line up with two completely different elevens solely made of their new arrivals. With two goalkeepers arriving and a range of positions signed for the squad, it is even possible for both XI’s to have a feasible tactical structure.
In the A team, Forest could line up with Manchester United loanee Dean Henderson in goal protected by a back three of Willy Boly, Cheikhou Kouyate and Moussa Niakhate. Ex-Liverpool star Neco Williams would line up at right wing-back with Atletico Madrid loanee Renan Lodi on the other side. Lewis O’Brien and Remo Freuler would make up the central midfield partnership behind a front three of Jesse Lingard, Gibbs-White and Emmanuel Dennis.
The B team would be arranged with the club’s other stars with back-up ‘keeper Wayne Hennessey between the sticks. Julian Biacone would join Loic Bade and Omar Richards at centre-half with Aurier and Harry Toffolo filling in at wing-back. Orel Mangala and Brandon Aguilera would be tasked with the central midfield role behind a front three of Taiwo Awoniyi, Josh Bowler and Ui-Jo Hwang.
Unfortunately, this picture won’t become a reality at any point this season after Bowler, Hwang and Aguilera left the club on loan. Both Bowler and Hwang have left to join Olympiacos, the other club possessed by Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis.
Forest manager Steve Cooper has said he is happy with the club’s transfer business and glad to have many of his new players on permanent contracts having been used to having players on loan instead.
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“There will always be a turnaround with some players coming and going, but there will never be as many as this summer,” he said. “It’s nice to know that most of the players you’ve got in are your own.
“You’re investing in them. I don’t just mean financially investing, but also football programme investing, in something that you can grow over a period of time.
“That’s important to me, especially as there’s quite a lot of players in there who have still got a lot of time ahead of them. They are still shaping their careers and their profile of player.
“It’s been a fairly unique summer, in terms of the turnaround – players coming in. It was always going to be a unique challenge with the numbers, then added to getting promotion and a different level of player that you have to look at. We’ve embraced that.”
Many of Forest’s new boys are expected to be in action again as the club take on fellow promoted side Bournemouth at the City Ground on Saturday.