By Michael Callander
Much has been made of the impact Brexit might have on British clubs’ transfer business in the coming years.
Nottingham Forest are reportedly looking to bring AFC Bournemouth’s Dan Gosling to the City Ground on loan and now lead the race for Peterborough United winger Siriki Dembélé after Fulham dropped out.
Though Forest brought in over ten new signings last summer, only Abdoulaye Diallo (Gençlerbirliği), Loïc Mbe Soh (Paris Saint-Germain), Fouad Bachirou (Malmö), Cafú and Miguel Guerrero (Olympiacos) were signed from mainland Europe.
Anthony Knockaert, Lyle Taylor, Scott McKenna and more came to Forest from elsewhere within British football, ahead of new restrictions on signings introduced on 1 January this year.
According to The Guardian, British clubs will now have to navigate a points-based work permit system when signing players from elsewhere in the European Union (EU).
Premier League and EFL clubs have also been banned from signing players from EU clubs until they are 18, and vice versa. If implemented a few years ago, England internationals Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham would not have been able to move to German giants Borussia Dortmund, and Manchester City could not have signed then-16-year-old Brahim Diaz from Malaga in 2015.
That might be great news for young players trying to break through into the first-team of British clubs in the coming years, as managers will have a harder time of supplementing their starting 11 with players signed from EU clubs.
This news brings big questions about how it will affect Nottingham Forest. Reds owner Evangelos Marinakis also owns Greek Superleague champions Olympiacos, and a myriad of transfers have been made between the two clubs since Marinakis bought Forest in 2017, taking over from the much-maligned Fawaz Al-Hasawi.
Recent moves include those of Guerrero and Cafú (on loan) to the City Ground last summer, with rumours abound that Forest left-back Yuri Ribeiro might move the other way and head to Greece before the January transfer window closes at 11pm next Monday.
Former Forest midfielder Andreas Bouchalakis is now captain of Olympiacos, having moved in 2018, while Tiago Silva made the same switch last summer. It seems the Portuguese has found playing time difficult to come by, last appearing from the bench in a 1 – 0 win over PAS Ioannina.
With potentially less competition for places coming in from Olympiacos and other EU clubs in the coming seasons, all eyes will be on Forest’s successful academy to bring through the next generation of City Ground stars.
We’ve seen the quality that can come from lower-league clubs in recent years. Ollie Watkins was signed from Exeter for around £1.8m when he moved to Brentford in 2017, and joined Aston Villa in September for £10m. The players are there, now the opportunities can hopefully flow more freely.
Gary Brazil has a proven track record of bringing quality players through from the Nigel Doughty Academy, with the likes of Joe Worrall, Matty Cash (now of Aston Villa) and more recently Alex Mighten working their way into the first-team in recent years.
Forest’s Under-23s won the Professional Development League North title under Chris Cohen last season, and though Cohen has since departed for Luton Town, the young Reds look set to repeat the feat this term under fellow former Forest midfielder and Irish international Andy Reid.
With more restrictions on where Forest’s new first-team stars can come from, manager Chris Hughton may well find himself looking much closer to home for his next signing and continue the success of the Nigel Doughty Academy.