Nottingham Forest have already found the perfect transfer replacement for injured Taiwo Awoniyi

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Nottingham Forest have been linked with a transfer bid for a new striker - can he fill the void left by Taiwo Awoniyi?

The news that top scorer Taiwo Awoniyi will be out for three to four months with a groin problem is a hammer blow to Nottingham Forest, and one of the worst injuries to come out of an international break which was riddled with them. The only silver lining is that with the January transfer window opening in just over a month, there will at least be a chance to put things right very soon.

Awoniyi, who has had an operation after aggravating an existing groin problem while on international duty with Nigeria, has scored four goals this season and is one of just three Forest players to net more than once in the league. His goals and movement in the final third have been critical to his team’s play and he has been a substantial part of the reason that they sit a full eight points above the relegation zone after just a dozen matches. In short, Steve Cooper needs a replacement.

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It won’t be easy to find a player who can replace Awoniyi straight up. He has a combination of movement, finishing and physicality that is hard to get hold of without spending huge amounts – but there may be a solution. A recent report from German newspaper Sport Bild suggests that Forest are looking at Werder Bremen’s Marvin Ducksch, and while he may not be a true like-for-like replacement, he brings a lot to the table, and could fit Cooper’s plans perfectly.

Ducksch, 29, made his name as one of the most feared marksmen in the 2.Bundesliga, scoring at least 15 goals in four straight campaigns in the German second tier – but until recently, his only foray into the first division, with Düsseldorf in 2018/19, had been a bit of a disaster. That has changed since winning promotion with Werder Bremen.

Ducksch hit twelve top-flight goals last season for his newly-promoted side, and added six assists – and he’s already up to eight goal contributions in the current campaign. He is consistent, dangerous in front of goal and contributes plenty to the broader team effort – and he’s now an international, too, winning his first two caps under Julian Nagelsmann in friendly defeats to Turkey and Austria last weekend.

Ducksch isn’t exactly the same kind of player as Awoniyi. He is by no means sluggish and is slightly taller than the Nigerian, but he has nothing like the same pace or strength, and can’t blow past defenders in the same way. Instead, Ducksch is the kind of striker who creates space by drifting around the field, heading down the channels or dropping deep and going wherever defenders aren’t. His heat maps look like Jackson Pollock paintings, with splashes of red and orange all over the attacking half of the field.

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And when he picks the ball up, he can be very unselfish, and while he’s got a decent long shot on him he usually looks for final balls, both from out wide and through the middle. He seldom looks for the easy lay off or simply for ways to recycle possession, and the result is plenty of assists and plenty of shot-creating plays. His passing isn’t necessarily first rate, and he doesn’t always put it on a plate, but he’s always looking for killer balls, and finds more than enough.

When he does find himself in front of goal, his numbers are excellent – he averages almost a goal every other game since returning to the Bundesliga with Bremen, has an xG this season of 0.46 per match and has exceeded his xG for three seasons on the trot. He’s a fine finisher who has the composure to take his chances, and unlike Awoniyi is rarely guilty of snatching at shots.

What should really make him a good fit is that he has played some of his best football when running off a target man – and Forest have exactly that kind of player in former Burnley striker Chris Wood. Ducksch’s movement and willingness to drop a little deeper means he’s often in perfect positions to collect knock-downs or give a target man a passing option when the ball has been held up. When he was playing alongside Nicklas Füllkrug last season, it worked beautifully. In theory, he should be a perfect foil for the big New Zealander.

So on paper he’s a natural fit and a proven goalscorer – and strikers who routinely hit double figures and don’t break the bank are a rare breed. The Sport Bild report didn’t mention a fee for Ducksch, but Transfermarkt value him at around €7.5m (£6.5m). He should be eminently affordable, especially if Divock Origi’s loan from AC Milan is terminated to free up some space on the wage bill – and recent reports suggest that the Belgian forward may well be leaving the City Ground soon.

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We’ll know soon enough whether the story has legs. His contract runs until 2026 and as Bremen’s most reliable goal threat, they’re hardly incentivised to let him go easily – and Cooper may well have other ideas about how to cover Awoniyi’s enforced lay-off. But the German side do have some financial concerns that they need to allay, and by the look of it, a move for Ducksch makes an awful lot of sense for Forest.

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