Forest’s Loan Business Needs To Improve

Quantity over quality; Forest’s loan business needs improvement.

Over the last couple of seasons, Nottingham Forest’s loan business – for the most part – has been fairly successful; particularly in the 21/22 promotion season. This season however, despite looking good ‘on paper’, Forest’s loan business has proved poor, and fans are beginning to question recruitment. What went wrong, and could this issue be fixed in January?

Lots of promise, little to no return

It’s hard to deny that any Forest fan wasn’t excited for at least the majority of loan signings made this summer: Santos, a superb prospect fresh out of Brazil, Montiel a recent World Cup winner, Origi a cult hero at Liverpool & Nuno Tavares arriving after a fairly successful season with Marseille just a few months prior. Lots of excitement, for the most part, but the underwhelming return has lead to questions; expectations may have been too high in some respects, although points are often made as to whether these players have been given a fair chance to showcase their ability. This seasons loan business has been a disappointment, what has gone wrong?

Andrey Santos – A move to the Premier League was always going to happen for Brazilian star Andrey Santos, but whether he was ready for regular game time was a separate question. Despite this, Forest signed him on loan, and since then, the Brazilian has featured just once in the Premier League, coming on late in the Reds’ loss to Liverpool in October. Should he have been given more chances? From an ‘outside looking in’ perspective, yes. However, Cooper hasn’t been so keen to select the young midfielder, with a return to parent-club, Chelsea, confirmed for January. 

Gonzalo Montiel – To some extent, while his loan has been so far underwhelming, do have more hope than other loanees in regard to getting game time, and maybe changing mine/many Forest fans view on this piece of loan business. While not getting much game time under Steve Cooper, I feel that he may be given a chance under Nuno – but his abilities at Right Wing-back are questionable, from what we’ve [Forest fans] seen, a position Nuno utilises in his typical 3-4-3 formation. Nuno could choose to use a back four, in which, perhaps, Montiel would get a chance – but Serge Aurier has worked under Nuno before, so I couldn’t imagine him [Montiel] being higher in the ‘pecking order’ to start in that position.

Nuno Tavares – A loanee from Arsenal, receiving his debut against Chelsea, the last away win for the Reds, Tavares has been seldom seen, and when on the pitch, hasn’t ‘shone’ to the degree some expected. Forest’s fullback depth is more than adequate; Aina’s prior form, Williams’ comeback, and Toffolo’s rise have made Tavares’ position almost impossible to change. A January return to Arsenal, I feel, would be mutually beneficial for player & club.

Divock Origi – While he may well have achieved cult hero status at Liverpool for important goals across various domestic/continental competitions, Divock Origi has failed to “pull up any trees” since his Liverpool departure. Scoring just two goals since leaving Merseyside, Origi failed to succeed at AC Milan, who saw a loan opportunity as a good way to ‘offload’ the striker, who earns around £120,000 per week. So far failing to offer anything going forward for Forest, similar to Tavares, I’d say a move back to Milan in January would suit all parties.

Between all the loanees, 16 games have been played, an average of four each, with Divock Origi playing the most (8), making up half of the total games between the players loaned in. 420 minutes of game time overall. Andrey Santos has the lowest amount of game time, with just 7 minutes played since he joined Forest on loan in the summer.

Based on my assessment, I would only – and still slightly cautiously – keep one of the loanees recruited in the summer. While I do believe what Forest’s summer recruitment isn’t necessarily poor overall, the loan business does need to improve, significantly.

In comparison, last season, Nottingham Forest – for the most part – had a successful loan recruitment spell: Renan Lodi, Dean Henderson, Keylor Navas & Chris Wood – the only player you could really say that didn’t live up to expectation was Chris Wood, possibly Dean Henderson due to extended injury. That being said, 22/23’s loan’s weren’t significantly better, since Forest’s return to the Premier League, its probably one of the clubs biggest weaknesses that is rarely discussed (perhaps more so now, that being said).

Is January an opportunity for Forest to “set things right” with loan business?

In some ways, yes. Providing there is no clauses that state Nottingham Forest must keep a player until the summer on loan, they could certainly utilise the action of terminating a loan in the winter window. With Santos going back to Chelsea, it’s possible others could follow.

Premier League sides are only allowed to register four loan players at any given time during the season, with players loaned in having to come from different clubs. Forest, for example, couldn’t loan in Andrey Santos & Armando Broja due to the fact they both play for Chelsea – as stated in the Premier League constitution. With Santos departing in January, a loan space opens up – Forest are desperate for a striker, having an extra loan space available is certainly beneficial.

While Forest can’t necessarily “set right” the poor business done in terms of going back in time, they can certainly make amends in January by recruiting well. With FFP always a consideration, especially after a heavy couple summers of spending, a striker signing on loan would be shrewd, albeit difficult. Finding the right solutions is tough, especially on loan – while it may seem low-risk, certain clauses can impact a loan, and temporary fixes soon become long-term burdens, in regard to a buy-clause at the end of a loan, for example, so the recruitment has to be astute to avoid any issues with loans like Forest have seen before.

Learning from past mistakes will be key for Nottingham Forest when it comes to loans – it certainly is an area of weakness, but one Forest can improve. There is time to set the record straight, and recruit well in January.

*Article provided by Jamie Martin (Head Nottingham Forest Correspondent).

*Main image @NFFC Nuno Espirito Santo may look at some temporary solutions in January.

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