The £26m genius transfer that would take Nottingham Forest to the next level

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Forest could be set for a testing summer in the transfer window

Football is a simple game; put the ball in one end, keep it out of the other. Nottingham Forest were not particularly good at either last season. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side finished the campaign with fourth-lowest tally of goals scored and joint-fifth highest number of goals conceded in the entire Premier League. Their final goal difference of -18 was only worsened by the three clubs who finished beneath them - in the relegation zone.

This summer will, therefore, be a crucial one for Forest, and one further complicated by the looming spectre of Profit and Sustainability Rules. The common consensus is that, in an effort to avoid a repeat of the kind of punishments that were handed down to them earlier in the year, the club are likely to be forced into one or more high profile sales over the coming months. Morgan Gibbs-White, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Murillo have all been touted as prospective departures, with dizzying fees attached.

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But at the same time, Forest will also need to find a way of balancing both their books and their on-field ambitions. To that end, recruitment will still be important for a side who were very much embroiled in a battle for survival until the final week of the top flight season.

Which brings us to Morato. The Benfica defender has been cited as a target at the City Ground for some time now, and it is understood that Forest already failed with one bid, believed to be valued at somewhere in the region of £25.6 million, back in January.

At the time, Benfica were unwilling to sell, but more recently a report from Portuguese outlet Jornal de Notícias has suggested that the 22-year-old faces an ‘uncertain’ future in Lisbon. As such, the Eagles could be willing to reconsider their stance this summer, and the opportunity for Forest to rekindle their interest could present itself.

Originally a centre-back, but more often deployed on the left side of a back four in recent times, the physically imposing defender featured 35 times for his current employers across all competitions, including five outings in the Champions League. Accomplished in possession and strong in the tackle, Morato feels like the kind of defensive upgrade that a club in Forest’s position could certainly use. Indeed, his average match rating of 6.84 last season, as per stats gurus Whoscored, would have made him the third highest-performing player in Nuno’s squad, bettered only by the aforementioned Gibbs-White and Willy Boly.

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Competition for his signature may be stiff; alongside Forest, fellow Premier League outfit Fulham are also said to have tabled an offer - albeit an inferior one - earlier this year. That being said, at the time of writing, it is claimed that Benfica have no fresh bids to consider.

Whether that is a reflection of waning interest from Craven Cottage, or simply the recency of this latest development, remains to be seen, but the point stands that there is an opening here for Forest to rekindle their pursuit of a player who, you suspect, would help them to go some way towards eradicating their defensive frailties. If funds permit, they should absolutely make their move.

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