Nottingham Forest defender Jamaal Lascelles is learning to cope with the pressure of being the club’s most highly-rated prospect.
The England youth international, 20, has been a standout performer for the Reds this season, tallying three goals in 32 appearances in all competitions for the promotion hopefuls.
Lascelles, who is contracted to the City Ground until 30 June 2018, is valued at around £5 million and has emerged as a transfer target for a number of top English clubs, including the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, in recent times.
The 20-year-old defender was previously linked with Everton in 2010 but nothing — other than a £45,000 fine handed down by the English Football Association for an ‘unauthorised approach’ for the player — materialised.
The never-ending speculation has placed a great deal of pressure on Lascelles but he is slowly but surely learning to cope with the attention.
“There has been a lot of talk about me since I was young and that does add pressure,” Lascelles said. “People think to themselves ‘he must be good, if a club like that want him’.
“I used to think about it quite a lot when I was younger. It did influence me mentally, quite a bit. It is more pressure.
“People were talking about Arsenal wanting me for £5 million. When I played, I felt as though I needed to be a £5 million player. If I didn’t play well, I felt as though people would be saying ‘he is not worth that’.
“I’m used to it now and don’t take any notice, I’m able to concentrate on my football.”
Where will Lascelles play his trade next season? Arsenal? Chelsea? Liverpool? Nottingham Forest?