The Nottingham Forest hierarchy will know that selling players could be a tough, yet effective way of raising much-needed funds this summer.
It’s a big summer for Chris Hughton as he looks to finally make his mark on his squad, having been unable to properly get to grips with such a large group of players over the course of last season. The manager had a squad of over 30 players left at his disposal following Sabri Lamouchi’s disposal, with 12 of those departing at the end of last season.
With a new-look recruitment team being assembled off the pitch, the focus this summer will be driving forward a new strategy in terms of bringing in players and freshening things up.
Ethan Horvath became Forest’s first signing of the summer on Tuesday evening, with the 26-year-old goalkeeper penning a three-year deal following his departure from Club Brugge.
But in terms of outfield, there is still an awful lot of work to be done, especially in the final third. Forest scored only 37 goals in 46 Championship matches last term, and as they look to add more firepower going forward, Hughton will know more than anyone that those type of players come at a cost.
This, then, leads us onto potential departures, and amongst the Forest squad, there are a few saleable assets. Joe Worrall, Alex Mighten and Brennan Johnson all spring to mind, with Worrall and Johnson both attracting strong interest from the Premier League this summer.
Another player who has also been admired from afar is Jordan Gabriel, with the full-back now back at the City Ground following an impressive loan spell at Blackpool last term.
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Gabriel was one of three current Forest players to spend last season on loan in League One, and the 22-year-old’s season culminated in triumph with Blackpool defeating Lincoln in the third-tier play-off final at Wembley. The 22-year-old was a key player at right-back, battling Ollie Turton for a place in the side throughout the campaign and racking up 35 appearances across all competitions.
Gabriel was impressive, so much so, that Neil Critchley has today outlined his intentions to keep an eye on the defender’s situation on Trentside. He told the Blackpool Gazette: “Elliot (Embleton) is back at Sunderland and Jordan is back at Nottingham Forest and I’m sure they will be trying to impress in pre-season to try and get in their team. We’ll keep an eye on them, that’s for certain.”
Forest will have a decision to make on Gabriel should a bid arrive for the defender, however it is understood that the 22-year-old is firmly in the Reds’ plans for pre-season and Hughton is keen to monitor his progress first-hand.
Right-back isn’t an area where Forest are exactly blessed with options at the moment, either. Cyrus Christie, who was one of Forest’s most regular performers last season, is now back at parent club Fulham, whilst Carl Jenkinson’s future also appears uncertain as he enters the final year of his contract.
Gabriel, then, adds a much-needed body to that area of the pitch, and if he were to be sold, it would leave the Reds needing to bring one, if not two right-backs into the club.
In Gabriel, Forest have a young, up and coming player who is still learning his trade, but is clearly on the right path of development. He’s thrived in both League One and League Two now, and the next step for him is regular Championship football, whether that is with or without Forest.
With his contract running until 2024, Forest aren’t exactly in any rush to bid farewell either. The length which remains on deal almost immediately casts doubt on Blackpool’s chances of signing him permanently, as the Reds have ultimate security over his future in that regard.
In a summer where finances are likely to be tight, it could take a high-profile departure to galvanise transfer activity and really get the ball rolling for Forest. In this case, though, the Reds should avoid temptation.