Nottingham Forest supporters will be licking their lips at the prospect of new signings arriving at the City Ground this summer as the club prepare for their first season back in the Premier League in 23 years.
Steve Cooper’s tremendous job at the Reds was completed on Sunday afternoon when they defeated Huddersfield Town in the Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium. Only two days after the 37,000 Forest fans witnessed history, talk has already began linking players to a move to the East Midlands ahead of August’s Premier League kick-off.
Southampton midfielder Will Smallbone has been mentioned as a potential replacement for James Garner, whilst the possibility of making Philip Zinckernagel and Djed Spence’s loan spells permanent have also been discussed
Previously, promoted clubs have endured a hectic summer before competing with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool. In the previous five seasons, relegation clubs spent an average of £49million in the summer market prior to taking on England’s best, a huge contrast to the £2.28m Forest spent last summer under Chris Hughton.
Forest last spent over £15million in a summer transfer window in 2018, when João Carvalho (£13.5m), Lewis Grabban (£6.12m), El Arbi Hillel Soudabi (£2.7m) and Tobias Figueiredo (£2m) all arriving.
It is a big summer for Forest, with plenty of players looking to join the club and make the step-up from the second tier to the Premier League. Below is a look at five Championship players who could fit perfectly into Cooper’s squad next season.
Forest’s midfield has already been heavily discussed already after interest in Garner from elsewhere across the Premier League has intensified. Garner is set to be assessed by new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag in pre-season, forcing Cooper to potentially look elsewhere for a figure to join Ryan Yates in midfield.
One player who has justified a move to the top flight is Sheffield United’s Sander Berge. The Norwegian is capable of playing as a defensive midfielder and was one of the Blades’ best players as they were knocked out in the Championship play-offs by Forest.
Berge completed 83% of his passes last season, whilst also boasting a 72% tackle success rate. An element that could attract the Reds hierarchy to the 24-year-old is his previous in top divisions in England and Belgium. He shares similar traits to Garner, with them both capable of finding passes from deep and making late runs into the opposition box to meet crosses.
Lewis-Potter was by far Hull City’s most impressive player last term, with 12 goals and four assists despite the Tigers finishing 19th in the Championship last season. The 21-year-old academy graduate has saw his stock rise since breaking onto the scene at the MKM Stadium in 2019.
Everton, West Ham, Southampton, Brentford and Bournemouth have all showed interest in the winger and with Jarrod Bowen’s tremendous form in the top flight after a move from Hull, Lewis-Potter would have that in the back of his mind ahead of the upcoming transfer market.
Capable of playing on either wing and as an attacking midfielder, the Hull man is bound to have his name on Cooper’s wish list to improve the Reds frontline.
At Wembley on Sunday there weren’t many Huddersfield players who caused Cooper’s side problems, but one did in attacking midfielder O’Brien. The 23-year-old has seen interest from Leeds United reignited after the Terriers lost in the play-off final, but the playmaker did enough on Sunday to convince Forest to potentially take a chance.
Like Berge, O’Brien is capable of playing defensively or attacking from midfield. After seeing a move to Leeds fail last summer, it’s only a matter of time before he plays in the Premier League according to team-mate Jonathan Hogg.
A different alternative in attack is Millwall’s Jed Wallace. The winger’s contract at the Den expires in a months time and he has not yet agreed on an extension with the club after interest from the Reds, Burnley, Leeds United and West Brom.
If Forest are to continue with the back three that Joe Worrall, Scott McKenna and Steve Cook have executed perfectly, further quality at the back will be a priority in the summer. Swansea City defender Cabango, 22, has come on leaps and bounds since his 2019 loan spell with The New Saints.
Like the previous four on this list, consistency across last season has been enough to justify a move to the top tier and the Wales international could be a perfect fit in Cooper’s defence.
Capable of playing out from the back, Cabango completed 85% of his passes last season, averaging 65.7 passes per game for Swansea last season and will want to put himself in the best position prior to Wales’ possible involvement in the Qatar World Cup