EPL

Nottingham Forest's spending spree – the 20 new faces brought in to help Premier League survival bid

By Sports Desk September 02, 2022

There are several ways in which promoted teams can approach their first transfer window in the Premier League.

One method is the path well worn by Norwich City, a more conservative approach to recruitment aiming to consolidate the squad that gained promotion and add in one or two fresh faces on cheaper deals or loans. For the Canaries, it has resulted in them becoming the proverbial yo-yo club; too good for the Championship, but not quite good enough to stay up.

Bournemouth, much to the apparent chagrin of former head coach Scott Parker, seem to have taken that approach this season. It remains to be seen how that will play out. 

There is a middle ground, the route taken by Leeds United in 2020, where five to 10 additions of quality, from across the continent or from within the Premier League, are prioritised. Fulham – big spenders in past seasons, to little success – are testing that one out this time around. 

Then, there always seems to be one of the promoted sides that turn around their squad on a grand scale. However, the scale of change seen at Nottingham Forest this time around has been unprecedented.

A whopping 20 (yes, twenty) first-team players had arrived before the deadline passed on September 1, and it would have been 21 had Forest pushed through a move for Chelsea outcast Michy Batshuayi in time. Steve Cooper relied heavily on loan players last season, most of whom left the club, but even still, the quantity of incomings has been remarkable.

Forest have already handed out 18 Premier League debuts this season (seven more than any other team) and could still make a 21st signing – free agent Serge Aurier is reportedly a target. For now, here's the 20 new faces Cooper can call on.

Goalkeeper

We'll start at the back, in the form of goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who signed on loan from Manchester United to replace the departing Brice Samba. While the latter was crucial last season, England international Henderson is an upgrade and came in as the club's second senior signing on July 2. He has already proved his worth, saving two penalties (one in a win over West Ham, the other in last week's loss to Tottenham). Wayne Hennessey signed from Burnley 13 days later to provide experienced competition.

Defence

The first defender through the door was right-back Giulian Biancone, and the 22-year-old was followed by coveted Mainz centre-back Moussa Niakhate for a reported fee of £8.5million (€9.8m) plus £4.2m (€4.8m) in potential add-ons. Full-backs Omar RichardsNeco Williams and Harry Toffolo arrived from Bayern Munich and Liverpool, but after three games Cooper wanted more. Renan Lodi watched Forest lose to Spurs before signing on loan from Atletico Madrid, underlining the pull of the Premier League and regular minutes in a World Cup year, with Willy Boly (Wolves, reported £2.25m) and Loic Bade (Rennes, loan) rounding off their defensive business.

Midfield

It took until July 20 for Forest to bolster their midfield, with Lewis O'Brien signing from Huddersfield Town. A day later, Forest's first marquee signing of the window arrived in the form of Jesse Lingard, who had left Manchester United following the expiration of his contract. Orel Mangala is an energetic holding player who has slotted straight in after signing from Stuttgart, with the versatile Cheikhou Kouyate an experienced free acquisition from Crystal Palace. Remo Freuler has played in the Champions League with Atalanta, and Forest went all-out for Morgan Gibbs-White, paying Wolves a reported £25m for the England youth international, with add-ons potentially taking the deal to £42.5m.

Attack

Goals win games, and Forest – who were thrashed 6-0 by champions Manchester City in a huge reality check last time out – have managed only two in the league this season despite their incomings. In Gibbs-White and Lingard they have added creativity, though their attack is yet to click. Taiwo Awoniyi scored 15 Bundesliga goals last term for Union Berlin and got Forest's winner against West Ham, though that is his only strike in five appearances so. Emmanuel Dennis' 10 goals were not enough to keep Watford up, but Forest were still willing to pay £20m to bring in the Nigerian, while they will be hoping Hwang Ui-jo replicates the 11 league goals he managed for Bordeaux in 2021-22. Winger Josh Bowler signed in a reported £4m deal from Blackpool Town just before the deadline.

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