Nottingham Forest have rejected a club record offer from Brentford with Brennan Johnson set to remain at the City Ground.
The 20-year-old attacking midfielder has been a mainstay in Steve Cooper’s side this season, scoring seven goals and contributing five assists in the Championship so far.
His electric pace and agility on the ball has made him an extreme nuisance for defenders with his performances drawing plenty of attention from potential suitors.
Premier League out Brentford have led the race for the attacking midfielder – although Newcastle United and Leeds United among other top-flight sides have also had an interest.
The Bees are reported to have submitted a bid worth £18m plus 15% in sell-on fees available for the Reds.
A figure of that sum would prove to be a club record sale and purchase for Nottingham Forest and Brentford respectively.
According to John Percy of the Telegraph, however, Cooper and his Forest chiefs have rejected the bumped-up bid and “consider the matter closed”.
Speaking after the 3-0 win over Barnsley at the City Ground on Tuesday night, a match which Johnson scored in, head coach Cooper reiterated his confidence in keeping the Nigel Doughty Academy graduate.
“I’m more than hopeful. I’m sure he’ll be here,” he said.
“We don’t want to be taking him for granted. He looked a threat when he got the ball.
“Even things like getting the two left-sided defenders booked early on, you’re thinking, ‘well, keep getting at them’ – I don’t want to sound too cynical.
“His assist was brilliant for [Ryan] Yatesy’s goal, and his goal was brilliant.
“He’s a talented boy. And we love him. We’ve just got to keep working hard with him and keep pushing him.”
Should the Reds cash in on Brennan now or hold out and risk his value decreasing later in the year? That scenario will have almost certainly played in Cooper’s mind when the bids have been tabled
Forest moved to a point of the Championship play-offs with their win over Barnsley, making the hope of promotion to the Premier League a realistic aspiration.
There remains, however, an awful lot of matches still to be played. 18 in total.
That includes clashes against five of the current top six – Fulham (A), Blackburn Rovers (A), AFC Bournemouth (A), QPR (H), West Bromwich Albion (H).
Johnson still has more than a year left on his current deal at the City Ground, but his valuation could go one of two ways.
Should Forest achieve promotion, the academy graduate could at last put pen to paper on new terms and force his valuation upwards.
If they cannot cross the line and end their 23-year exodus from the top-flight then his value could plummet with some speed as clubs look to capitalise on a player who could eventually become available on a free transfer.
It is one almighty gamble, but it’s one that Cooper seems quite happy to play the waiting game with.