Nottingham Forest summer target James Garner has revealed he is keen to impress new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag during pre-season but has suggested he is “not too sure” where he wants to play his football next season.
Garner has spent the past 18 months on loan at Forest and was a central figure as Steve Cooper’s side won promotion to the Premier League via the Championship play-off final in 2021/22.
Not only did that victory end the Reds’ 23-year wait for top flight football but it also increased their chances of re-signing the midfielder for the upcoming campaign.
A report from The Sun has claimed that Forest are keen to bring him back to the East Midlands for 2022/23 – either on loan or permanently – and are optimistic that they’re front of the queue should he be allowed to depart Old Trafford.
However, it is understood ten Hag plans to run the rule over him during pre-season.
It promises to be a transfer saga that runs on throughout the summer transfer window and Garner fielded questions about his future while on England U21 duty.
Speaking to Nottinghamshire Live, he said: “I’ve not spoken to Erik ten Hag yet. From the play-off final I’ve gone straight to being with England so I’ve had no rest and no break yet.
“It’s been football, football, football. I’ve not spoken to anyone at the club yet. It’s time for a rest now. I’m not too sure what the future holds.”
Pressed on what his preference would be, he said: “I’m not too sure, personally. I’ve not had much time to think in honesty.
“I’ve gone from the Championship play-off final to international football. I’ve not had a breather or time to think about what I want. I’d like to go on pre-season and impress.
“It’s down to me as a player to impress and make a mark. I know how good a style of football Ajax play so it’s exciting.”
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It’s no surprise that Garner is keen to prove himself to ten Hag and establish himself at Man United but he’s certainly not closed the door on a return to the City Ground.
If Forest are to get him back this summer, you’d imagine it will be on loan and that his parent club will make the decision late in the window after ten Hag has got a chance to assess what the 21-year-old can offer and what his other options are.
Should the Dutch coach deem him excess to requirements for the time being, a loan move to Forest to get Premier League experience would appear a no-brainer.
He’s clearly someone that Cooper trusts and rates highly so you’d expect him to play a lot of football should he return to the East Midlands for 2022/23, which is what the player and his parent club will want.