What's behind Nottingham Forest's cautious summer transfer approach? 
A general view inside Nottingham Forest's City Ground Stadium - capturing the Brian Clough Stand 
(Photo by Jon Hobley via Getty Images) 

The curtain rises on the new Sky Bet Championship season two weeks today and therefore clubs have been scrambling to acquire new players to fit the final piece of the puzzle, in the hope of filling the void that hampered them last campaign. 

For Nottingham Forest, signing just one player thus far with two weeks until kick-off is unfamiliar territory. But, in an unprecedented summer for EFL clubs after 18 months without fans rolling through the turnstiles, is there a plan in place on Trentside as the Reds look to put last season's woes of a 17th placed finish behind them? 

A switch of policy 

Club Brugge goalkeeper Ethan Horvath is the only player to arrive at the City Ground this summer, however, despite frustrations mounting regarding the lack of activity, the bigger picture is required.

Nottingham Forest's previous policy of quantity over quality was rushed and heavily criticised by the supporters. Club chairman Nicholas Randall QC, who himself has had a busy summer after recently being elected as a representative on the EFL board panel, also admitted the previous transfer policy was hampering the Reds

New CEO Dane Murphy, aged just 35 and full of fresh ideas, has arrived to embark Forest on a new journey, starting with more stringent and thought-through plans off-the-field. 

In recent weeks, Forest have been linked with a catalogue of players, but nothing other than Horvath has yet materialised. However, from the individuals linked the age bracket has dropped considerably. It's clear that Murphy and his fellow new backroom recruits have an eye for potential and are looking ahead further than just this season at Forest

Manager Chris Hughton pronounced his frustration at the lack of activity after Forest's opening pre-season victory over National League North side Alfreton Town, but also admitted the club are doing all they can to change that thesis and bring fresh faces to the dressing room. 

Latest potential transfer dealings 

Zian Flemming

Flemming was brought to Forest fans attention a few weeks back, but after three bids for the 22-year-old attacking midfielder, Forest are now exploring other options after failing to meet the valuation Fortuna Sittard favoured. 

Sandro Kulenovic

Kulenovic was also a strong link for a move to Trentside, but the Croatian striker reportedly favoured a permanent deal, with Forest wanting an initial season long loan with a future buy option. 

Over recent days the prospect of signing Kulenovic took a major setback, with the player reportedly sceptical, but after taking longer to think the deal through it's believed he's had second thoughts and could make the switch to the City Ground.

Forest have kept tabs on the 21-year-old since 2018, and should he arrive it would be on a one year initial loan deal with a £2.5 million buy-out clause after. 

Phillip Zinckernagel

Zinckernagel has been heavily linked with the Reds over recent weeks. The Danish international only arrived at Watford last summer, but after their promotion to the Premier League, the Hornets want to offload him to make room for newcomers. 

The deal would be on loan for the season, but won't happen until Watford welcome another attacking arrival into their ranks. 

Zinckernagel's astounding 19 goals and 18 assists in the 19/20 season for Norweigan side FK Bodo/Glimt prompted Watford to sign him, and he'd offer fantastic versatility for Forest - operating mostly as a right winger, but also as a central midfielder. 

Lee Buchanan

Forest's interest in arch rivals young left-back Buchanan was always going to get people talking, but a bid was launched. Derby County are said to want £2-3 million for the 20-year-old who graduated from the Rams Academy. 

Premier League clubs are also said to be interested, however, former team-mate Jayden Bogle left the club for top-flight football at Sheffield United and was introduced to very little game time. Buchanan would fill the left-back void at Forest and could continue his development in the Championship, albeit controversially on the red side of the East Midlands. 

Josh Doig 

Hibernian's Josh Doig is another left-back Forest currently have tabs on, but they're far from alone - with Arsenal, West Ham United, Leeds United, Watford and AC Milan also admirers of the young Scottish prospect. 

Doig hasn't ruled out a move from Easter Road this summer, declaring that he knows there is interest in his signature. With such high profile clubs interested in acquiring Doig, Forest will have to operate smartly if he's the man they want. 

Key areas to strengthen

With each passing day, we near closer to the season opener at the Coventry Building Society Arena against Coventry City, and with very little business to show for the summer there's understandably some worry. 

But, the transfer window rumbles on for weeks after the first kick and although getting players in early to partake in pre-season preparations would be ideal, the slow and cautious approach could be a blessing for Forest, as they ensure they get things right under the new-look hierarchy. 

Left back 

With Portuguese international Yuri Ribeiro leaving the club following the expiration of his contract this summer, Gaetan Bong being surplus to requirements and Tyler Blackett currently recovering from surgery - Forest need to add a new left-back to their ranks, that can strengthen the first-team. 

Returning Forest Green Rovers loanee Jayden Richardson can operate on the left, as he has been during pre-season. However, after two separate League Two loan spells, it seems too early to throw Richardson in at the deep end as the starting left-back for the Reds

Striker

Talk at times this summer has veered away from the Reds needing a new striker, but after their worst season in front of goal since the millennium, it's certainly a problem area for Hughton to address. 

Lewis Grabban is capable of goals, he's shown that at every club he's been at. However, at 33 the frontman is not getting any younger and only netted on six occasions last campaign. 

Lyle Taylor didn't live up to the expectation of his arrival from Charlton Athletic, finding the net just four times. 

Will Swan and Nuno Da Costa return from their loans at Port Vale and Royal Excel Mouscron respectively, but they're still very much unknown quantities and it would serve as a risk to rely on the latter, with Swan likely to head out on loan once again this season. 

With that being said, Forest need to head the market for a striker that can help lead the line and add more vigour to their attack. Exploring the market for a young and hungry Premier League loan striker could be a viable option for the Reds, so that a fee doesn't have to be branded and with the player having a point to prove to his parent club, it could help both parties. 

Winger/ wide midfielder 

There is absolutely no denying Forest have strength and talent in their ranks out wide, but at the ripe ages of a couple of them faces, it seems too early to expect so much of them without more experienced and proven back-up. 

This is of course speaking of Alex Mighten and returning talent Brennan Johnson, who can also operate centrally as an attacking midfielder.  

Mighten has already shown Forest fans what he can do, as he pushed his way further up the pecking order as the season progressed last campaign. He's continued that form into pre-season, and has been the shining light across Forest's three matches against Alfreton, Port Vale and Northampton Town

Johnson also comes back to the City Ground with a point to prove, following a dazzling loan spell at Lincoln City in League One last term. 

Joe Lolley will be keen to rediscover his goal scoring and creative spark this coming year, after a frustrating 20/21 that was plagued with injuries and fitness issues. Should Joe return to his past self, it's like a new signing for the Reds.  

Right back 

Jordan Gabriel is a very capable young player, and impressed Blackpool manager Neil Critchley that much last season to prompt a bid in recent days. 

Gabriel could certainly start games this season and perform comfortably in that role, but he needs competition for the spot, both for his own development and the best of the team if performance levels dipped during his debut season in the second tier.

Time is a virtue  

It remains to be seen what business Murphy and Hughton craft from now until the season begins, in what is an ever-changing market, with ups,downs and continuous links every day.

However, the structure to ensure Forest do get it right is in place, at the expense of a more cautious looking window thus far on Trentside. 

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