Reds Adopting Net Zero January

What is Forest’s transfer strategy in the later stages of the transfer window?

The end of the Winter transfer window is soon drawing to a close, and Nottingham Forest are yet to make a signing – an unfamiliar concept when looking at recent transfer windows. However the reason for this isn’t because there is no money to spend, but because of a change in strategy; “Net Zero” spending, and more careful recruitment, Forest have learned from previous mistakes, as much as the move is impacted also by a recent PSR breach charge.

Why are Nottingham Forest adopting a so-called “Net Zero” approach to the Winter window?

In the last two seasons, the winter window has been crucial – 21/22 saw the key additions of Steve Cook, Sam Surridge & Keenan Davies – take either one of them away from that campaign, and maybe Forest’s position at the moment could have been very, very different. Winter 22/23 wasn’t quite as successful, Wood would eventually pay off with goals the season-after, but the only “gem” would have been Danilo – crucial goals/actions in the latter half of the season saw some memorable moments for Forest, who secured Premier League safety for another season. This time, the stakes are just as high, if not more – the aforementioned PSR charge won’t be heard of until April, and Forest need to pickup points; new signings are needed in an arduous time for Nottingham Forest. Winter is so important, once more.

While the PSR breach charge relates to accounts concerning last season, and the two prior seasons to that – so what Forest spend now won’t affect that, but reckless spending certainly won’t look good when Forest come to defend themselves against the breach charge. A sensible, transparent & shrewd transfer plan is needed for Forest, not only to ensure they are seen to be reacting to the charge, but also to ensure signings can “hit the ground running,” and ensure the clubs Premier League status for another season.

The original report to suggest that Nottingham Forest would use such a strategy came from reputable Telegraph Sport journalist, John Percy, who made the claim that Forest would be “Net Zero” this Winter — loan business seems the most likely business Forest fans will see, and should expect.

Who can Forest fans possibly see wearing the Garibaldi Red before the transfer deadline closes?

Right now, there are many players linked; Forest fans should, almost certainly, expect at least one winger & one goalkeeper before the window ends. There is a potential for a midfielder, however it is unlikely with Orel Mangala now “staying put” in Nottingham, as Napoli have pulled out of a deal to sign the player due to a disagreement on financials. Leander Dendoncker has since signed for the Serie A side, with the Mangala deal falling through despite optimism for an agreement to be reached.

Giovanni Reyna is most likely to be the first signing Forest make in the January window, with the player keen on a move after a spell of limited game time, and Forest needing depth in the wide areas – Reyna would be a good bit of recruitment, but a deal is not yet secure. As Fabrizio Romano reports, talks are being conducted with the players “camp” now, looking at wage structure, etc. Forest optimistic they can get the deal done, and are the most serious option for the American wide-man. A loan for Carlos Forbs from Ajax is now highly unlikely as Ajax struggle with depth following injury  problems, but even with that, Forest are focusing heavily on the recruitment of ‘Gio’ Reyna and a Goalkeeper, maybe even a striker.

Matt Turner & Odysseas Vlachodimos have had somewhat of a nightmare start to life at Forest, and despite both arriving with much anticipation, both are yet to show their true best form. Between them, 3 clean sheets in 21 games, or 1 in every 7. An appealing statistic which leaves the pairing in the lower-spectrum for clean sheet numbers in the league this season, leading Forest to act, and pursue a new keeper this winter, despite initial reports suggesting that Nuno did not want to recruit a new player between the sticks. 

RB Leipzig’s Péter Gulácsi is a target for Forest – the 33yr old Keeper has been the second keeper of the German club for a considerable period, only playing one game this season so far, but is said to be being given an opportunity as first-team keeper in the near future, hence the reason Leipzig are reluctant to see him depart. Standing at 6ft2”, Gulácsi is a tall keeper with a more calm approach with the ball at his feet – a good shot-stopper, but someone who struggles in claiming the ball on crosses, on occasion. Forest have also once again been linked with now-Anderlecht Goalkeepr, Kasper Schmeichel, who has a “low fee” release clause, and wouldn’t be against a move back to the Premier League. 

Forest have approached Crystal Palace for Sam Johnstone, but the loan with obligation-to-buy clause was rejected, as per David Ornstein. The English keeper will stay put. Kasper Schmeichel is being discusses internally also as an option, Tom Collomosse revealed; Forest came close to securing his signature in the summer.

Forest will reportedly look at a young striker, with Hugo Ekitike once again cited as a potential target, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Forest were to make one last approach for Michy Batshuayi who the Reds have chased since their return to the Premier League. 

A goalkeeper, a winger, a striker – three days left, Forest’s negotiators will be incredibly busy. I anticipate a deadline day that could see a signing or two. 

Loans with obligation – still a risk?

The final topic of this article is loans with an obligation to buy, and while they sound ‘rosey’ in the sense that the club doesn’t spend funds immediately, but instead in the summer – but typically a loan fee is involved so the parent club isn’t completely without compensation. While helpful for a club trying to navigate FFP limits for that season, a fee does eventually have to be paid, and any sort of problem that could arise in the summer is a concern – typically: relegation, fines, etc. 

As much as I hate to delve on the idea of relegation for Forest, as I do believe they will stay up, it is a possibility, and for FFP, buying a player in the summer after the loan for a hefty fee. While the fee is amortised (spread out in payments) on a balance sheet over the course of the contract length, more £m in the losses for FFP could be risky if Forest were to be relegated, despite the parachute payments that they would receive.

For example, Forest target Ekitike is supposedly only going to leave PSG on loan should there be a guaranteed £18m-£20m fee coming PSG’s way at the end of the loan; large sum of money, uncertainty over league position paired with an impending payment/s to PSG is a risk Forest might not wish to take in order to keep losses at a minimum.

However, with that being said, Forest’s ownership are certainly not defeatist, and while uncertainty does loom over them due to the PSR situation, it won’t halt their ambition, its just that a more cautioned approach will be taken. I do believe Forest will secure players in the positions mentioned, but it may just come late into the window. Forest have a plethora of options, and are simply exploring those, lots of work behind the scenes ongoing.

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

*Main image @NFFC Nottingham Forest have had a quiet January window thus far.

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