Nottingham Forest star Joe Worrall is currently the subject of interest from Premier League side Southampton according to Hampshire Live, as just one of many top-flight clubs who have reportedly been interested in the 24-year-old this summer.
The centre-back has been a vital asset for Chris Hughton’s side in the last two seasons, helping the East Midlands outfit concede just 45 goals in 46 league games during the 2020/21 campaign and keeping them afloat in the second tier despite their woeful attacking record.
This is why his potential departure comes as a major blow for the Championship club and judging by their starts to the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons, with Worrall being injured at the beginning of both, their defence and results look shaky without him in the team.
There is one potential benefit that could come from his sale though – and that’s the financial boost they could receive after seeing the 24-year-old establish himself as one of the best central defenders in the division.
Thankfully for Forest, the academy graduate signed a new contract last year to extend his stay at the City Ground until 2024, meaning officials in the East Midlands will be able to hold out for a reasonably high transfer fee at the negotiating table.
One thing that will push his price even higher is a potential bidding war considering the fact Brentford, Burnley, Crystal Palace and West Ham United have all registered their interest in his services along with the Saints in the last few months.
If they can receive a sizeable eight-figure fee for someone who will inevitably want to test himself in the top flight, they should look to inject a decent chunk of this money back into the playing squad to give Chris Hughton the funds to improve his squad.
The additions of Ethan Horvath, Philip Zinckernagel and Jordi Osei-Tutu this summer is a good start – but there’s definitely room for more signings to come in with further areas to address.
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Firstly, they will have to adequately replace Joe Worrall, whether it’s a permanent move or a loan signing whilst they identify a long-term replacement.
As previously mentioned, they have struggled at the back without him and even though their attack seems to have improved with Brennan Johnson returning to the City Ground, their results will suffer if they continue to leak goals in the way they have been so far this season.
Secondly, they may want to pursue previous target and Manchester City winger Morgan Rogers, who spent the second last of last season with Johnson at Lincoln City, with the duo almost guiding the Imps to the Championship in May before losing to Blackpool in the League One play-off final.
He was at Forest’s match against AFC Bournemouth last weekend, after first being linked with a move for him earlier this month by The Athletic’s Paul Taylor. The funds generated from Worrall’s potential sale could allow the Championship side to negotiate a permanent deal for the 19-year-old.
But why not go for a double deal and include the Premier League champions’ young striker Liam Delap? After scoring just 37 goals in 46 league games last season, it’s clear they need to improve their potency in front of goal and provide competition to the likes of Lyle Taylor and Lewis Grabban.
According to Manchester City Under-23s coach Brian Barry-Murphy who was interviewed by Manchester Evening News, he expects Delap to remain with the Citizens this season. This is a major blow to the likes of Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion who were previously in the running for him.
However, Delap would still benefit from a season in the Championship – and Forest could utilise a small portion of the money gained from Worrall’s sale to put towards an attractive loan fee to City for a season-long loan for the 18-year-old.
His goalscoring threat could be a game-changer for Chris Hughton’s side in vastly improving on the 17th-place finish from the 2020/21 campaign, with the teenager scoring an impressive 24 goals in 20 Premier League 2 appearances last term.
They shouldn’t offer too much for him due to the fact he would probably only be at Forest for a season and because they also have other areas to strengthen – but they would be able to put together a slightly more attractive loan package than others may have offered and could tempt City with a double deal if they decide to step up their pursuit of Rogers.