With the end of Fawaz Al-Hasawi’s reign as Nottingham Forest owner nearing its year anniversary in the rich history of the two time European champions, new owner, Evangelos Marinakis has allowed Aitor Karanka significant investment this summer ahead of his first full season in charge at the City Ground, and the Spaniard, who won promotion to the Premier League with Middlesborough has obliged, tempting some huge names to make the switch to the second tier. Having played witness to a dominant Wolves side full of European recruits, Karanka will be hoping to emulate the successes of Nuno Espirito Santo’s outfit.
Karanka endured a challenging first five months with Forest, after just five wins and six draws in 21 matches saw him unable to steer the Reds higher than 17th in the table, however the aim this season will be much higher, with Karanka being allowed such freedom in a competitive market. The ex-Real Madrid assistant has shown no lack of intent, adding a club-record transfer to his ranks. Take a look at Nottingham’s newest faces, and those deemed to surplus to requirements in Forest’s new era.
Forest engineered an audacious double swoop from 36-time Portuguese champions, S.L. Benfica as they secured the services of two highly-regarded Under-21 internationals as they hope to take the club back to the top flight, where they have remained absent from for 19 years. Midfielder Joao Carvalho’s signature demanded a club record fee of £13.2 million, previously held by the £5 million deal for striker, Britt Assombalonga. The 21-year-old signed a five-year deal with Forest and previously racked up just eight senior appearances for Benfica but also impressed on-loan at Primeira Liga rivals, Vitoria. Prior to that, Carvalho turned out 80 times for Benfica B, scoring nine goals across three seasons.
Completing Forest’s double, winger Diogo Goncalves moves to the City Ground on a season-long loan deal. Goncalves has competed in every age of bracket of Portugal’s international youth setup and has also risen through the ranks at Benfica B prior to his seven appearances for the first-team. Goncalves made his Champions League debut in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United last season and brings with him plenty of promise and flair to Forest.
Karanka turned his attention to Ligue 1 to tie down his final Portuegese hotshot, with French side, AS Monaco allowing the Spaniard to take tricky wide-man, Gil Bastiao Dias to England on a season-long loan for the upcoming campaign to link up with a trio of young prospects, with Forest given the option to make the transfer permanent at the end of next season.
Dias spent the 2017/18 season on loan with Italian Serie A side, Fiorentina, however, the Florence-based club chose not to keep him at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, despite the 21-year-old contributing 27 appearances and two goals to a side that finished 8th. The SC Braga youth product has only mustered one appearance for his parent team however and he will be hoping to prove himself in England in his fourth loan switch since 2016.
Central-defender, Michael Dawson also returned to the City Ground following 12-years away from his local side, where he began his career prior to move a to Tottenham Hotspur. Dawson joins Forest on a free transfer having decided to leave second-tier rivals, Hull City. The four-time England international made 40 appearances last season, scoring three times. Karanka will hope Dawson’s introduction can sure up a previously penetrable Forest backline that conceded 65 times last year.
Karanka has also been eager to free up the books and has overseen Eric Lichaj’s departure from the club, with the American joining Hull on an undisclosed fee, a deal which precedes the release of Jack Hobbs, David Vaughan and Ashkan Dejagah. Fan favourite, Chris Cohen also announced his retirement following a career hampered with injuries and he leaves what will be a new-look Forest team come August.
Nottingham Forest fans, are you happy with the way Aitor Karanka is conducting himself in the transfer window? Can these big signings help you fight for promotion next year or will the pressure of major expenditure backfire on Karanka? Let us know your thoughts by commenting down below and taking part in the poll. You can also tweet us at @AllOutFootball_ using the hashtag #AOF.