Nottingham Forest set for 16th signing as they agree £42.5 million Morgan Gibbs-White deal

With well over £100 million spent on double-digit transfers, Nottingham Forest are throwing themselves into the Premier League transfer window with gusto. Now they are set to make their biggest splash yet having agreed a deal with Wolverhampton Wanderers that could ultimately reach £42.5 million for midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White. This will be their 16th summer signing. 

Forest will pay £25 million upfront for the England Under-21 international, but that fee could balloon into, by some distance, the most expensive player signed by a newly-promoted Premier League club. Previously it was the £27 million Leeds United paid for Rodrigo. Sources on both sides of the deal have confirmed to CBS Sports that between £7 million and £10 million of add-ons are relatively easily achievable for Forest; it is understood that within those terms are a bonus Steve Cooper’s side will pay Wolves if they avoid relegation this season. There are, however, further provisions in the agreement that, whilst less likely to be reached, would swell the deal further to £42.5 million. 

Wolves view that as a fair price at which to cash out on a talented player whose best season came on loan in the Championship with Sheffield United and who has yet to reach 50 Premier League games. Should Forest reach every clause in the deal they would effectively end up funding the purchase of Matheus Nunes — rated by Pep Guardiola as “one of the best in world football” — from Sporting. 

Equally, Forest are adding a player who was coveted by many other Premier League clubs, most notably Everton but also West Ham. An earlier bid worth up to £35m was rejected, but they now have a player who has a proven track record of success with his new manager; in 2017 Gibbs-White was part of the England side that won the U-17 World Cup with Cooper as manager.

On paper, Forest’s options in midfield now look intimidating indeed. Gibbs-White could find himself vying with Jesse Lingard for minutes at the tip of Cooper’s trio in the center of the pitch with fellow new signings Remo Freuler, Cheikhou Kouyate, Lewis O’Brien and Orel Mangala capable propositions deeper in the engine room. Gibbs-White’s addition is understood to put pay to the pursuit of Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar, though club sources have indicated that this was not a move that was particularly deeply explored.

With similar investment across the rest of the pitch, Forest’s approach has naturally caught the eye across England and beyond. When Gibbs-White’s move is finalized — he is undergoing a medical on Thursday afternoon — the Reds will sit second in the top flight in terms of spending, firmly between Chelsea and Tottenham. Whilst 16 headline additions is certainly a sizeable amount, it should be noted that a significant number of the players who got Forest to the Premier League did not make the journey with them including loanees Djed Spence and James Garner, as well as first choice goalkeeper Brice Samba.

Speaking earlier on Thursday, Cooper indicated that there were further positions in his squad that needed strengthening, saying in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Everton: “There are certainly some areas we still want to strengthen in all the lines throughout the pitch.

“But it’s getting the right player and the right character that fits into our way of working, but that’s what we’re committed to doing. If you like we’re down the line with a few things and hopefully we can finish the process off of getting them through the door. And also, naturally there’s going to be some players who will leave as well, which is not too much of a negative situation. Some guys need to leave to further their careers, whether it’s on loan and they come back, or move on a permanent basis.”

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