Nottingham Forest still want James Garner

Nottingham Forest have fallen behind in their pursuit of one former City Ground loan star… 

What’s the word?

According to Manchester Evening News, Southampton have emerged as surprise frontrunners to sign Manchester United youngster James Garner.

Along with the Saints, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Forest had all shown an interest after United decided to sell the 21-year-old.

Some may have expected Garner to naturally gravitate towards a return to the City Ground, but Steve Cooper will now have to act fast to ensure that the Reds do not miss out on bringing this highly-rated youngster back into the fold.

This deal would add another young English talent to the squad after Forest completed the signing of Morgan Gibbs-White from Wolverhampton Wanderers. 

Imagine him and Freuler

If Garner were to return to Nottingham, one player he would certainly benefit from having around is one of their newer signings in Remo Freuler.

The former Atalanta captain has a wealth of experience, and alongside Garner, the two could form a wonderful midfield partnership to keep the Tricky Trees in the Premier League.

Do Nottingham Forest need another midfielder?

Yes, get Garner in

No, they have enough

No, they have enough

The Swiss ace and the England under-21 international could both be seen as well-rounded midfielders, and therefore both are just as likely to threaten on the attack as they are to put their foot in when necessary.

Garner featured 44 times for Forest in the league last season, which suggests that it would not take long for him to re-acclimatise himself with the surroundings in the Midlands. Despite playing from a deeper role, his four goals and eight assists in 2021/22 outline him as a creative threat from this position.

To combine this attacking output with Freuler’s more modest four goal contributions in Serie A last term, that makes for a fine return from central midfield. The Switzerland international also ranks in the top 7% for progressive passes among midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues, so he could find the likes of Jesse Lingard from deep in dangerous pockets of space to start attacks.

The former Atalanta man also comes to the City Ground with a wealth of Champions League experience (21 appearances), which he could bestow upon the young Garner to accelerate the latter’s development.

The £17k-per-week ace’s value to the team is also reflected in his defensive duties, as he averaged 1.4 interceptions, 1.8 tackles and 0.9 clearances per game in 2021/22. He is unafraid to do the dirty work, and for a team who will likely have to battle for every point they earn this season, he could be the ideal midfielder for a heroic underdog story.

Combined with his offensive statistics, this outlines him as the “perfect” midfielder, using the words of journalist Josh Bunting, and he could flourish beside the brains and experience of Freuler. The two midfielders could be instrumental in keeping Forest in the Premier League, if they are to team up.

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