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Will Forest keep eye-catching talents?

Nottingham Forest expert view
[BBC]

Despite Nottingham Forest needing a point to absolutely guarantee a third consecutive season in the Premier League, the pre-match vibes from the packed out away end delivered an overwhelming sense of job already done before a ball was even kicked.

There seemed to be a dress code of minimal clothing, which included some in high-vis jackets, accompanied by accessories of beach balls and a few naked inflatables. This was most definitely an end of season party.

It is a campaign which will be best remembered by neutrals for Forest's actions off the pitch. Sacking Steve Cooper, appointing Nuno Espirito Santo, hiring Mark Clattenburg as a referee consultant and owner Evangelos Marinakis and first team coach Steven Reid pursuing officials all the way to the referee's office following their home defeat to Liverpool. There was also a four-point deduction for breaching the Premier League's Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR), and releasing ‘that’ statement after penalty decisions did not go their way at Everton.

Amidst the chaos, two players in particular have stood out. Club record signing Morgan Gibbs-White ended the campaign with five league goals, plus an eye catching ten assists, a figure only bettered by Cole Palmer (11) and Ollie Watkins (13).

His performances throughout have been all action. He offered a perfect blend of the work rate needed to excel at this level, combined with bravery and creativity on the ball, which has seen him try, and pull things off, like he is flexing in the park with his mates and not gracing some of the biggest football stadia in the world. Even with the depth of talent available to Gareth Southgate, his name warrants being in the Euro 2024 conversation.

Then there is Murillo. A Brazilian ball playing centre-half who is built like a boxer. He arrived in the East Midlands having made just 13 League appearances for Corinthians, and has gone on to start all 31 English top flight matches he has been available for.

The 21-year-old is more than adept at the art of defending, but has quickly achieved cult status amongst Forest fans for his marauding dribbles, and ability to ping long balls with draw dropping accuracy. Turf Moor was treated to several renditions of "he's breaking ankles everywhere he goes. His name's Murillo, Murillo dos Santos."

Head Coach Nuno Espirito Santo told me: "Definitely there will be interest from other clubs.

"We just have to wait and see. In football you never know."

I am sure most Forest fans understand where they sit in the food chain. It is likely they will lose one, if not both. However, unlike last summer's sale of Brennan Johnson, which was eventually confirmed on the 1st September 2023, the club will look to get any potential business done by the 30th June 2024 PSR deadline.

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[BBC]