Nottingham Forest went into the last 48 hours of the transfer window having made five signings — and ended it with 13 new additions, including seven on deadline day.
It will doubtless prompt comparisons with last summer, when 22 new players joined during the summer window. Forest will now have until September 13 to decide which players make the cut for the 25-man squad list they have to submit to the Premier League.
But what it has also done — with the exception of Brennan Johnson’s departure to Tottenham Hotspur in a £47.5million deal — is leave Steve Cooper with a significantly stronger squad of players to work with.
Here are the eight players who Forest signed in the final two days of the window and what they will bring to the table…
Murillo (Corinthians, initial €12m)
The Brazilian not only arrives with bags of potential — but also his own ready-made chant.
Even the Nottingham Forest social media account registered this, when they teased the arrival of the 21-year-old with this:
When the day is dawning… 🎶
— Nottingham Forest (@NFFC) August 31, 2023
How big Tony Christie’s song “(Is This The Way To) Amarillo” is in Brazil is unclear but Murillo is, in theory, ideally suited to the Premier League. A physically powerful player who is dominant in the air, he is said to be comfortable on the ball and happy to carry it out from the back.
He has the added advantage of being left-footed, which will see him compete with Moussa Niakhate and Scott McKenna for that left-sided role in the back three.
It is only this season that he has burst onto the first-team scene with Corinthians, making 13 appearances in the Brazilian top flight. Forest have invested heavily in a player with limited experience but who is highly regarded at home
Talk to people at Arsenal about Tavares and they will speak of raw talent; of pace and potential — of there ‘being something there’ in the rampaging full-back.
He was high on Forest’s wanted list, with Cooper keen to add pace and athleticism in the wing-back roles, as he plotted a switch to a three-man central defence.
And the two main men that the head coach wanted to fill them were Ola Aina and Tavares. The 3-4-2-1 formation Cooper favours requires the kind of attributes Tavares possesses.
And, while it has often been the flexible Aina who has operated down the left in the opening games, with Serge Aurier on the right, Tavares will soon be expected to challenge for a position on the left side.
Tavares will not want to remember his last visit to the City Ground, in January 2022, when he was withdrawn after 35 minutes of an FA Cup tie, following an opening to the game in which Djed Spence and Brennan Johnson had given him a torrid time.
He is regarded as a player who is more comfortable attacking than defending. But that might just make him a perfect fit for the approach Cooper wants.
Nicolas Dominguez (Bologna, €8m plus Remo Freuler)
When he made his first-team breakthrough with Velez Sarsfield in 2016-17, he was initially an orthodox defensive midfielder. But, over the course of four seasons in his home country, he evolved into something more.
By the time he joined Bologna in 2019, he was a player who was capable of breaking up play and winning back possession as well as getting in and around the opposition box to be a creative force.
He was a key figure — and often the captain — of the Bologna side that flirted with qualifying for Europe in Serie A last season.
With an extensive range of passing and calmness on the ball plus his ability to win back possession, he should fit perfectly into Forest’s counter-attacking style.
There was a stage, in 2020, when Hudson-Odoi might have joined Bayern Munich in a deal worth £70million.
That was an accurate barometer of the potential many believed the winger to have, not long after he had made his England debut at 18, as a substitute in a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic in March 2019, becoming the youngest-ever player to win their first England cap in a competitive game.
His former Chelsea manager, Frank Lampard, predicted that he had the quality to become a ‘world-class’ player.
Hudson-Odoi has not gone on to reach those heights, spending last season on loan with Bayer Leverkusen, where he made 13 starts and eight substitute appearances, scoring once — in a 2-2 draw away to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
But Cooper knows Hudson-Odoi well, with the winger having been part of the England Under-17 side that triumphed in the World Cup in 2017. If Cooper can coax the best out of him again, Forest could have landed a bargain. He will bring pace, trickery and threat.
Forest started the summer with a plan to bring Dean Henderson back, following his successful loan spell from Manchester United but had concerns over the thigh injury that had ruled out him out of the second half of the campaign. After signing Matt Turner, the USMNT international, they stepped back their interest in Henderson, who has joined Crystal Palace.
They always wanted to bring in another goalkeeper to provide quality competition and cover for Turner. And the player they have turned to is equipped to push him hard.
Vlachodimos is a Greek international who was born in Stuttgart and for whom he played in their youth academy. After finding first-team opportunities limited — making three Bundesliga appearances in 2015-16 — he moved to Panathinaikos and enhanced his reputation.
It was only after moving to Benfica in 2018 that he was offered the chance to play internationally for Greece and he has won 33 caps.
He made 205 appearances for the Portuguese side, including 52 appearances in Europe. At 29, he is still young for a keeper, but brings with him vast experience on the European and international stage.
The most significant summer signing of all. Forest have trailed the midfielder for more than a year — from owner Evangelos Marinakis to head coach Cooper, Sangare is the one they really wanted.
The 25-year-old brings a vital set of attributes to a key area of the pitch. Strong, athletic, dynamic, a destructive and creative force, Sangare epitomises the qualities Cooper wants to build his Forest team around.
— Nottingham Forest (@NFFC) September 1, 2023
Forest’s media department have done some excellent work when it comes to their player reveals this summer. But the grandest, most spectacular video package was reserved for Sangare, as he stood alone — arms spread wide under the floodlights — in the centre of the City Ground pitch.
He even took Jonjo Shelvey’s No 6 shirt.
Divock Origi (AC Milan, loan)
How many times have Forest been linked with players that they are somehow felt destined never to sign? Darren Pratley? Peter Whittingham? And now, seemingly, Michy Batshuayi.
A move for the Belgian international was scuppered by a paperwork issue. The Forest hierarchy remained keen on him again but a deal with Fenerbahce could not be struck.
So they turned to his international team-mate, Origi. He remains a cult figure at Liverpool, where the goals he scored tended to be important — including the winning goal in a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.
With the in-form Taiwo Awoniyi ahead of him in the pecking order, Origi might initially find himself as a fringe figure at Forest as well.
Forest did not push to make the move happen until Friday afternoon, after a sustained effort to sign Trevoh Chalobah from Chelsea.
But what they are signing is a 21-year-old who was regarded as being one of the brightest talents in the Championship.
Physically strong, but possessing a desire to carry the ball out from the back, Omobamidele is a player who can get Forest moving. He will be comfortable in a back four or a three.
Like Murillo, he is somebody who has made an instant impact, after establishing himself as a first-team regular at Norwich last season.
Omobamidele does not have significant Premier League experience, but he has faced Cristiano Ronaldo while on international duty with Ireland — and emerged from that clash with his reputation enhanced.
(Top image: ANP via Getty Images)