20 Jun How do Nottingham Forest replace Brice Samba?
For all the positivity around Nottingham Forest at the moment, it’s hard to see where things could go wrong between now and the start of the season. Steve Cooper’s side, who beat Huddersfield Town 1-0 at Wembley to win the play-off final and earn a place in the Premier League, will feature in the top flight for the first time in 23 years, going from relegation candidates to overachievers in the space of a miraculous nine months.
Cooper is riding the crest of a wave in his managerial career and despite some of his stars coming on loan, it looks as if the City Ground will be welcoming some fresh additions with the surplus of money given to the newly promoted East Midlands outfits. While the sports betting exchange sees them struggling, the likes of Brennan Johnson, Joe Worral and Jack Colback will try and ensure Forest stay up first time of asking.
However, that task could be made even harder by the departure of Brice Samba. A popular figure in the Forest camp and one of the longest servants at the club, the Congolese goalkeeper has submitted a formal request to move with just a year left on his deal. As a move to AS Nantes in the French Ligue 1 is imminent, Cooper will have to move swiftly to find a new man between the sticks. Read on, as we look at three goalkeepers that could fill the void left by Samba at Nottingham Forest next season.
Let’s start with the most concrete of all rumours — Dean Henderson. The Manchester United man, who has found game time hard to come by since his loan from Sheffield United in their return to the Premier League in 2019-20, is expected to depart Old Trafford for the season once again, coming on loan at the City Ground with an option of moving for £20 million permanently the following season. Having prevented the Yorkshire side from tasting relegation under Chris Wilder, Henderson could be key in keeping Cooper’s side afloat, with a move hopefully completed before the opening day trip to Newcastle.
Having been relegated twice now in his Burnley career, Nick Pope will want to avoid spending his peak years in the Championship, with the Clarets facing the drop after a difficult year under Sean Dyche and Mike Jackson. Pope was immense as Burnley became a stalwart in the Premier League, developing a reputation as a team that is hard to beat, and Pope’s tall frame could be a big asset to Forest should they acquire his signature, although his style is very different to Samba’s athleticism.
We’ve already seen Julián Álvarez make the move from Argentina to the Premier League this summer, trading River Plate for Manchester City, and now Forest are reportedly interested in a move for teammate Franco Armani, with the keeper rumoured to be available for around £5 million. The 35-year-old is a veteran on South American shores and would act as a short-term replacement for Samba, or perhaps even a number two to Henderson should both be available. With 18 caps for the Argentina national team, Armani would provide plenty of experience to a backline in desperate need of it in their debut season in the top flight.