With five loanees set to return to their parent clubs and seven players set to be out of contract, it promises to be another summer transition for Nottingham Forest.
Since arriving at the City Ground in October, Chris Hughton has inherited a heavily congested squad filled with over 30 first-team players after 13 new signings arrived before he had even unpacked his bags on Trentside.
The 62-year-old has also had very little time to manoeuvre his way through that, having had a few days in the summer and 31 days in January, but with mathematical safety now assured, he will already be casting one eye on the summer as he looks to shuffle the pack and bring in his own players.
Football Insider report that Bristol City’s Jamie Paterson, a former Forest player, is on the Reds’ radar ahead of the summer.
Paterson is no stranger to the City Ground having made 69 appearances for Forest between 2013 and 2016, after joining the club from Walsall. He scored 14 goals and registered 15 assists for the Reds, before leaving for Bristol City in the summer of 2016.
The 29-year-old is still at Ashton Gate and is out for remainder of the season through injury, having scored three goals in 20 league outings this term. The midfielder is out of contract in the summer and Football Insider claim that Forest, Birmingham, Stoke and Millwall are interested in signing the winger on a free.
Here, we take a look at two pros and two cons to this potential City Ground reunion…
Pro: Problem position
Goals have been hard to come by for Forest this season.
Their strikers haven’t been up to the task, with Glenn Murray, Lyle Taylor and Lewis Grabban scoring 13 goals between them, but any successful manager will tell you that goals have to come from every area of the pitch.
Filip Krovinovic arrived on loan from Benfica in January and has chipped in with one goal from attacking midfield, whilst Sammy Ameobi, Alex Mighten and Joe Lolley have scored just seven goals between them all season.
Krovinovic, Luke Freeman and Anthony Knockaert will all return to their parent clubs this summer, and Ameobi is out of contract, leaving Hughton with very little depth as he looks to pick three midfielders to play in his trusted 4-2-3-1 setup.
What Paterson would bring is plenty of versatility, though. He was an old-school winger during his time at Forest, but has transformed into a versatile attacking midfielder since joining the Robins, able to play as an 8 or as a 10.
His arrival would kill two birds with stone and address a problem position.
Pro: Value for money
As alluded to before, Paterson’s arrival wouldn’t cost a lot whatsoever.
The 29-year-old is out of contract in the summer and could be available to sign on a free transfer, meaning that wages and agents fees would be the only outgoings here.
In a summer where finances are likely to be tight, Forest need to recruit wisely, and this is something that Hughton is particularly aware of.
They will have to be smart at times, and bringing in a proven Championship player on a free wouldn’t be bad business from a financial perspective.
Whilst Paterson may have been excellent for Forest at times, his form did dip towards the end of his time at the City Ground.
He chipped with 14 goal contributions in 32 appearances in his first season, but fell out of favour soon after. A loan move to Huddersfield materialised, before a permanent move to City followed shortly after.
Paterson has struggled for form and consistency at Ashton Gate, though. The 29-year-old has scored 26 goals in 156 appearances, netting three times in 20 league outings this term.
It is also worth remembering that he flattered to deceive on loan at Derby last season, scoring one goal in only 12 appearances, before he returned to Ashton Gate with his future left uncertain.
That should be a concern if Forest were to sign him. He’s a shadow of the player he was when he arrived from Walsall in 2013.
Con: Change of direction?
Forest have been guilty of making some poor transfer decisions in the past.
You only have to look at last summer, when Harry Arter, Jack Colback and Fouad Bachirou all arrived at the club. Three midfielders all over the age of 30, who have barely played this season and look set to leave the club this summer. That is a huge amount of expenditure.
They have been guilty of bringing in players on a free transfer for the sake of their availability, without really considering the long-term plan and the direction they would like to head in.
This summer will be a measure of how far the Reds have come and whether the club have learnt from previous mistakes, but signing a player who is nearly 30 and has been underperforming for a while may not be one which delights fans too much.