The game-changing bargain Nottingham Forest signing who could transform Steve Cooper’s side next season

Nottingham Forest need a statement summer spree in order to give themselves the best chance of avoiding another relegation battle next season.
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It’s not been as easy ride for Nottingham Forest over the last 15 years. After being promoted from League One in 2008, their upwards trajectory came to a screeching halt and they were stuck in the vicious cycle that is the battle to escape the second tier and climb triumphantly into the Premier League.

The Reds had two consecutive play-off stints in 2010 and 2011, but after that, they seriously struggled to string together some consistent form. They finished as low as 21st at the end of the 2016/17 season, and their poor run saw them go through two managers, plus a caretaker manager. Things looked seriously bleak for Forest, but they finally grafted their way to safety and a fairytale ending.

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With Steve Cooper at the hilt, the Reds fought their way through the play-offs to punch their ticket into the Premier League for the first time in more than two decades. Now, it was certainly a milestone to be celebrated — and we’re sure the champagne flowed for days, if not weeks after their win over Huddersfield Town — but it’s fair to say that their movements in the transfer window that followed were less of a ballroom waltz and more of a drunken rendition of the Cha-Cha Slide.

Nottingham Forest held on to their Premier League status by the skin of their teeth last season Nottingham Forest held on to their Premier League status by the skin of their teeth last season
Nottingham Forest held on to their Premier League status by the skin of their teeth last season

Forest signed 21 players during the summer of 2022, a new British record. Quite the achievement really, especially when you appreciate how crucial the likes of Morgan Gibbs-White and Taiwo Awoniyi were during their relegation battle last season. Neco Williams also looked to be really finding his stride before injury struck near the end of the season.

However, signings like Jesse Lingard proved to be a waste of time and wages overall, despite the initial excitement over him recreating his form at West Ham United under Cooper. The English international made just 17 Premier League appearances and failed to contribute a single goal or assist as the Reds struggled to fight their way out of the relegation scrap.

In the end, Lingard became less and less involved in the team and played a grand total of 60 minutes in the last 15 games of the season. His recent departure was part of a nine-man summer exit, including Renan Lodi and Cafú. They did secure a permanent deal for Chris Wood from Newcastle United, but Forest will need more than the one recruit to boost their chances of avoiding another relegation fight next season.

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Recent reports have linked the Reds to signing Callum Hudson-Odoi this summer, as the 22-year-old looks to move on permanently from Chelsea. It’s also quite surprising that the winger is only 22, as it feels like he has been around for a lot longer. His price tag has been rumoured to be in the region of £15 million, which is a pretty good price in this day and age. Alternatively, he could be allowed to leave the Blues on the free, as they look to whittle down their outrageous wage bill - Malang Sarr is rumoured to be on six-figures a week, for goodness sake.

Chelsea's English midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi reacts to a missed chance during the English Premier League football match (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)Chelsea's English midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi reacts to a missed chance during the English Premier League football match (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Chelsea's English midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi reacts to a missed chance during the English Premier League football match (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

In his defence, Hudson-Odoi has made 126 appearances for Chelsea since making his first team debut in 2018, and looked to be ‘the next big thing’ as he broke into the England senior squad a year later. But despite his best efforts to emerge as a mainstay with his boyhood club, he became hampered by injury woes and didn’t make the full transition and often found himself left on the bench, or out of the squad completely.

The three-cap England international now wants to leave Chelsea - along with half their squad, it seems - in pursuit of a spot in the starting line-up elsewhere, and Nottingham Forest could be the exact location to offer him that. The Reds need tried and tested senior players to improve their performances next season and Hudson-Odoi would bring a strong CV of experience, having trained under the likes of Thomas Tuchel.

He has also enjoyed the opportunity to play in the Champions League and FA Cup with Chelsea, plus his most recent loan stint in the Bundesliga will have introduced him to different playing and training styles, which will have helped him mature further as a player.

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Cooper’s typical formation last season mainly saw a midfield-heavy starting lineup, with just the one dominant forward up front. In fact, Forest have very limited options when it comes to selecting natural wide players. Only Alex Mighten and Josh Bowler are recognised wingers in the current first team, and they have fewer than ten minutes of Premier League experience between them.

Bowler is actually yet to clock a single appearance for Forest since signing last summer. As for Mighten, he was brought on for a brief cameo in the first game of the season against Newcastle, made one pass, lost the ball twice and was sent out on loan later that month.

Forest scored just 38 goals last season, the joint-fifth worst return in the league, so their creativity is clearly an area that needs improvement. If they want to avoid a repeat of last season, they’re going to have to invest in their attack. Hudson-Odoi could help transform Cooper’s frontline, especially if he starts implementing a formation that utilises natural wingers.

The Chelsea ace may not have the best goal contribution ratio (16 goals and 22 assists in 126 appearances for the Blues) but he ranked in the top 13 percent of players throughout Europe over the past year in his position for progressive carries, averaging 4.71 per 90 minutes. He also completed an average of 2.02 successful take-ons per 90, according to FBref.

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Adding him to a team with someone like Gibbs-White could unlock a whole plethora of new avenues to explore. Despite being an attacking midfielder by trade, the Forest star slotted into a wide position on six occasions last season, so he is unquestionably capable of operating on the wing.

Gibbs-White contributed five goals and eight assists last campaign, with three of those contributions coming from a wide position. Having played with Hudson-Odoi for England at youth international level, the two will already be familiar with each other and could strike up a partnership Forest fans didn’t know they needed. It would also open up space in midfield for Cooper to snap up a new playmaker for his engine room.

There is always a domino effect to a rogue transfer, and Hudson-Odoi could be the starting block to a long trail of new opportunities next season.

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