Nottingham Forest could be set for a mammoth transfer window as they prepare for a first season in the top flight for almost a quarter of a century.
The Reds are still revelling in their historic promotion back to the Premier League, achieved after a 1-0 win over Huddersfield Town last month in the Championship play-off final. The victory means the former European champions will grace the top table of English football for the first time since the 1998-99 season.
Long before that Wembley success, manager Steve Cooper and the Forest hierarchy formulated a plan of action when it comes to recruitment, with a list of targets planned for each eventuality. Now, reports claim that Cooper will be handed a bumper nine-figure transfer war chest in the summer.
The Times claim that the club are plotting a £100million spending spree with the report saying Burnley and England goalkeeper Nick Pope is the first name on the shopping list. Pope experienced relegation with the Clarets on the final day of last season and looks almost certain to be sold as he aims to confirm his place on the plane to Qatar for next winter’s World Cup.
Should a deal for Pope materialise, it could be the first of many as Forest plan a major overhaul. Other targets are likely to include loan stars from last season such as Keinan Davis and Djed Spence.
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Neither player is expected to be part of the first team plans at their parent clubs, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, respectively. But Forest’s promotion is likely to mean they have to pay a premium for both players. Spence especially will be a tough deal to get over the line.
Midway through last season the 21-year-old was attracting admiring glances from the likes of Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur and the London side are reportedly still in the market for him. That could well result in a bidding war, although Forest would hope giving him the platform to sparkle last term would work in their favour.
The key for Forest will be to avoid making the same mistakes as some clubs have done by coming up from the Championship and simply applying a scattergun approach to recruitment. Fulham, back in the 2018-19 campaign, were guilty of an expensive splurge on players who simply did not live up to their hype.
Just shy of £100m was frittered away on the likes of Jean Michael Seri, Alfie Mawson and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa. The end result was an instant relegation back to the Championship in a season that saw three managers in the Craven Cottage dugout as Fulham ended up finishing ten points adrift of safety. That began a boom-and-bust cycle that has seen the Cottagers promoted or relegated in each of the past five seasons.
Forest will be wary of making the same mistakes although owner Evangelos Marinakis has pledged to back his manager in the market ahead of a long-awaited Premier League return. “Now is the time to give Steve all the ammunition he needs, to be able to not only survive but bring some good results,” Marinakis said.
“We have to invest more. We need to buy some good players and some that will make the difference and have the experience who know the division. We need to be careful how we spend and make the right choices.”