Steve Cooper is reportedly already looking ahead to the January transfer window…
Nottingham Forest have endured a testing start to the 2023/24 Premier League season, as Steve Cooper’s side continue to adapt to life in the top-flight.
The Reds secured promotion back in 2022, and renewed their Premier League status on the penultimate day of the 2022/23 campaign, with the hope there to grow on their confirmation of survival.
Away from the leap from the Championship to the top tier, Cooper has orchestrated some severe changes to the squad since Forest’s promotion, with 34 players added to the ranks since last summer.
From loans, to transfers, to capturing free agents, the Tricky Trees have seen a host of players take to the pitch at the City Ground over the past year, which has undoubtedly halted the progression to some degree as the squad continues to adapt.
Starting the season facing Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City from the opening six fixtures was never going to be an easy task for Cooper’s side, however positive signs have been traceable from the first ten games.
The issue remains, however, that the Reds are edging towards the relegation zone, sitting five points above the drop in 16th, having secured only two wins so far.
As a result, it looks as though Cooper could be in a position to eye even further reinforcements to bolster his side, in the bid to register Forest as an established top-flight side rather than one adapting post-promotion.
Nottingham Forest transfer targets
According to the latest rumours surrounding potential January targets for Forest, it seems as though the Reds will be eyeing additional forwards this winter.
One name that has circulated is summer target Samuel Iling-Junior, who is said to be set for a transfer from Juventus, who are hoping they can cash in on the Englishman.
A report from Italy, relayed by Sport Witness, claimed that the winger could be available for a minimum price of €15m (£13m), adding that Premier League trio Everton, Brighton and Forest are eyeing the movements of the 20-year-old.
Another forward that has been mentioned with reference to Forest is Stuttgart talisman Serhou Guirassy, who is wanted by both the Reds and Fulham, according to BILD – as relayed by Tribal Football.
The 27-year-old has already netted 14 Bundesliga goals in only eight games this season, highlighting just how prolific a signing he could be for Forest.
During the summer, Forest were denied the chance to sign Turkish winger Karem Akturkoglu due to their bid of €11m (£9.5m) being deemed too low by Galatasaray, as per reports in the player’s homeland.
A fresh report from Turkey – as relayed by TEAMtalk – has provided further information that suggests that the Reds could opt to delve back in for the forward this winter, however they would be joined by a host of Premier League clubs who are also interested.
In 2022, a report from football.london credited Arsenal’s supposed admiration for the 25-year-old, who quoted that the Lions would be looking for a price in the region of €20m (£17m) for their star.
It will be an interesting development to follow if the Reds decide to knock once again for the Turkey international, who would undoubtedly be a statement signing at the City Ground.
The stats that suggest Karem Akturkoglu could be a good signing for Forest
The 25-year-old has started the 2023/24 campaign in exemplary fashion, having scored five goals and recorded seven assists in 19 appearances in all competitions.
The forward has already shown his worth against English opposition, having claimed a goal at Old Trafford in the Champions League in the Lions’ win over Manchester United to showcase the danger he can impose.
Contributing to goals is nothing out of the ordinary for the Turkey international, who contributed to Galatasaray’s title-winning campaign last term, scoring ten goals and registering 14 assists in all competitions.
|Akturkoglu vs Galatasaray teammates 2023/24 Super Lig|
|Statistic||Average||Rank in squad|
|Key passes per game||3.1||1st|
|Through balls per game||0.4||1st|
|Match rating per game||7.39||2nd|
|Averages via WhoScored|
As demonstrated in the graph above, Akturkoglu is one of Galatasaray’s best performers so far this term, exploiting his talent on the left flank to inspire his teammates to get forward.
Identifiable as a tireless figure in the wide channels, the 25-year-old could be the perfect signing to add further star quality to Cooper’s options going forward, in the bid to promote a higher standard of play at Forest.
Karem Akturkoglu’s style of play
While Akturkoglu is a typical dynamic and direct wide player, the £23k-per-week gem is also an assured playmaker, and can bring an array of elements to any side in the final third.
A scouting report via The Scouting App described the winger as a ‘must-watch in European football’, attributing his ‘enormous technique’ and ‘dribbling abilities’ to his success in Turkey.
The Scouting App also lauded the 25-year-old as a ‘difficult element to contain’ due to his direct nature and speed, qualities that the Reds know all too well can be used to great effect.
This summer, the Premier League side bid farewell to Brennan Johnson, who was a key part of Cooper’s front line in both the Championship and the Premier League – having scored 26 league goals across the last two seasons combined.
The Welshman is known for his “frightening” pace among a host of strengths – as per compatriot Joe Allen – expertise that Forest were forced to live without as he signed for Tottenham on deadline day.
Cooper’s set-up at Forest relies heavily on the potency of his wide players, making Akturkoglu a particularly strong candidate for the manager to eye in January to finally replace Johnson.
How Karem Akturkoglu compares to Brennan Johnson
Once praised as “unstoppable” by U23 scout Antonio Mango, the Turkish forward has the capacity to fill the void left by Johnson, with his approach to play very similar to the Forest academy graduate.
|Johnson vs Akturkoglu – respective 2022/23 league campaigns|
|Statistic||Brennan Johnson||Karem Akturkoglu|
|Shots on target per game||0.7||0.6|
|Big chances created||4||17|
|Key passes per game||0.8||2.3|
|Passing accuracy per game||63%||70%|
|Successful dribbles per game||0.9||1.5|
|Figures via Sofascore|
When comparing the respective 2022/23 league campaigns of both Johnson and Akturkoglu, the numbers show that the Galatasaray whiz could even offer Cooper an upgrade on his departed gem.
As portrayed in the graph above, the Kocaeli-born star could act as a far greater presence in the final third for Forest compared to how Johnson impacted the side last term.
Not only did the Turkey international score more goals and record more assists than the Welshman, but he also provided a significantly higher threat on a playmaking level, adding to The Scouting App’s claims that he is the ‘complete’ player.
Forest aren’t alone in their admiration for Akturkoglu, making a potential swoop for the winger even more of a challenge in January, however the prospect of capturing his signature is a highly exciting situation for the Reds to be in.