Nobody expected Nottingham Forest to be in the Premier League this season — when Steve Cooper took over, most thought that he’d do a good job if he could keep the club clear of the relegation battle. Yet, unexpectedly, he got the East Midlands side promoted. At the start of the summer, many saw Forest as all but certainties to go down, given how much they’ve already overachieved just to reach the top flight.
The decision-makers at the City Ground clearly think otherwise, however, and they’ve decided to strike while the iron is hot. They’ve had a busy transfer window and, with the news that they’ve agreed with a deal with Stuttgart for 24-year-old midfielder Orel Mangala, it’s just got busier. Set to cost £12.7 million, Mangala will be the club’s 12th signing of the summer, taking their spending above £70 million.
If Mangala joins, then he will join the likes of Jesse Lingard, Lewis O’Brien, Harry Toffolo, Taiwo Awoniyi, Moussa Niakhaté, and Neco Williams as incomings — with the latter three all costing at least £17 million. Brandon Aguilera, Giulian Biancone, Omar Richards, Dean Henderson, and Wayne Hennessey have also joined the club.
It’s clear that Cooper’s side is set to be overhauled as they bid to stay in the Premier League and, with the club reportedly interested in Real Betis’ Alex Moreno, they may not be done yet. Increasing the quality of their squad is their most likely route to survival, and the club looks a far more appetizing prospect on sports betting sites thanks to their summer business.
Individually, Mangala is a good purchase. He offers goals and assists from midfield. His movement off the ball means he gets into dangerous spaces, where he can get a shot off on goal, or look to set up a teammate. Mangala is a strong dribbler, and that’s where most of his threat comes from.
While the 24-year-old is not the most proactive defender, he is solid in duels and he doesn’t make too many errors. He’s unlikely to spend too long dwelling on the ball, preferring instead to try and make things happen as early as possible.
He’s relatively cheap and is an excellent age, with his value likely to only increase. He could go on to be a regular for years to come or, if he plays well enough, he could end up attracting big money bids from other clubs.
Either way, it’s the kind of business that bodes well, and it’s not the only smart move the club has taken. Taiwo Awoniyi and Moussa Niakhité are both well-regarded talents who, despite both deals being worth £17 million, are seen as relatively good signings. These are augmented with the likes of Henderson, O’Brien, and Toffolo — ensuring there’s a section of the squad who have experience in English football.
Omar Richards and Neco Williams are both young and English, and therefore likely to maintain their value, but with experience in top-flight football, that means they should be able to slot right into the Forest side. By and large, Forest seems to be avoiding the pitfall of spending big on a few well-known players and are instead casting a wide net as they look for a squad strong enough to keep them in the Premier League at the first time of asking.