From Joao Carvalho to David Johnson – Nottingham Forest’s Most Expensive Signings

nottingham forest most expensive

Nottingham Forest are no strangers to making several moves in the transfer window. While a number tend to arrive on undisclosed fees, these are the seven most expensive transfer signings completed by Nottingham Forest.

Most Expensive Signings Made By Nottingham Forest

From Joao Carvalho to David Johnson

In the eight transfer windows since owner Evangelos Marinakis took over, Forest have made more than 70 loan or permanent signings.

Sabri Lamouchi presided over 13 signings at the start of the current campaign; meanwhile, Chris Hughton has added four players of his own – Anthony Knockaert (loan), James Garner (loan), Glenn Murray (permanent) and Filip Krovinovic (loan).

Popular football statistics website TransferMarkt have collated the transfer fees paid by Forest and here are who they have as the Reds’ seven most expensive signings.

7) David Johnson, £4.05 million

Having struggled to score goals in his debut season in the Premiership with Ipswich Town, David Johnson dropped down a league to help Nottingham Forest in their push for promotion.

According to transfermarkt, the popular Town forward left George Burley’s side for a fee of around £4.05 million. BBC Sport and Sky Sports claim the move was, however, for an initial £3 million.

Johnson’s 62 goals in 158 games at Town, including 23 in 52 games as the Suffolk side were promoted via the play-offs, made him an attractive prospect up-front. His goalscoring record started slowly with Forest, however, as he scored just two goals in the period between signing and the end of the 2000/01 season.

Three goals in 24 appearances at the start of the 2001/02 season meant Johnson dropped down the pecking order under Paul Hart. A brief loan move to Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley followed – with seven goals in 15 matches.

His return to the City Ground, in time for the 2002/03 season, saw his goalscoring talents return. He scored 29 goals in 47 matches across all competitions as Forest reached the play-offs.

He signed a three-year contract at the start of the following season, but a series of injuries meant he was never able to return to his best. In September 2006, Johnson retired from professional football on the advice of his doctors.

6) Loic Mbe Soh, £4.5 million

Nottingham Forest reportedly had to fight off interest from Championship rivals Norwich City and Middlesbrough for the signature of Cameroon defender Loic Mbe Soh.

The 19-year-old joined Forest at the start of the current campaign on a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee. According to Transfermarkt, the move was valued at £4.5 million.

Mbe Soh has found chances hard to come by since making his move from PSG to the City Ground. The teenage defender has made seven appearances for the Reds since signing – including five starts.

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His limited opportunities have not been due to any fault of his own, however. In December 2020, boss Chris Hughton told NottinghamshireLive that Mbe Soh is “definitely one for the future, but that certainly doesn’t mean he isn’t one for now.”

He said: “At the time when I brought Joe Worrall back into the team (after injury), I had a conversation with Loic, because he’s been banging on that door – not literally, but by what he’s done in training and how badly he wants to play.”

5) Harry Arter, £4.95 million

Another of Sabri Lamouchi’s summer signings, the addition of midfielder Harry Arter has cost Forest £4.95 million according to Transfermarkt.

The midfielder made 232 appearances for Bournemouth before departing permanently for the City Ground; during his time on the South Coast, he was part of the Cherries side that rapidly went from League One to the Premier League.

Just 13 appearances for Forest, mostly down to a calf injury picked up midway through the season, meant the midfielder was linked with a January exit from the Reds. Bristol City were reportedly interested, but a move failed to materialise ahead of the deadline.

4) Pierre van Hooijdonk, £5.40 million

When Van Hooijdonk arrived at Nottingham Forest in 1997 for a deal worth around £4.5 million, the Reds were in the midst of a relegation battle. Just one goal in eight Premier League appearances failed to stop the East Midlanders from finishing bottom.

The Dutch forward did, however, pledge to restore Forest’s top-flight status. He achieved exactly that, earning unqualified success on both an individual and team basis. Van Hooijdonk built up a good strike partnership with team-mate Kevin Campbell and ended the season with 29 league goals in 42 appearances; the team, meanwhile, finished top of the league with 94 points, three ahead of second-placed Middlesbrough.

His final season at the club ended in huge controversy, though. A lack of squad reinforcements, added with the departures of Campbell and club captain Colin Cooper, meant tensions were high between Van Hooijdonk and the club hierarchy. The Dutch forward claimed the club had betrayed earlier promises by refusing him a move away, ending up with the striker going on strike for a short period.

Upon his return, he was met by a hostile reception from fans and his team-mates. Eventually, after Forest’s relegation from the Premier League and Dave Bassett’s sacking as manager, he was sold to SBV Vitesse for £3.5 million.

3) Lewis Grabban, £6.12 million

Having fallen out of favour at Bournemouth, Lewis Grabban spent a brief period on loan at three clubs (Reading, Sunderland and Aston Villa) before signing for Forest.

Transfermarkt claim the striker’s move to Forest cost the Reds £6.12 million; the deal was wrapped up after a short spell of discussions with then-manager Aitor Karanka. It took Grabban a while to get going at Forest – a goalless record in six matches put early pressure on him – but he then went on to score 15 goals in 15 games.

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Karanka was sacked after a decline in form – and was replaced by Martin O’Neill – but Grabban’s form also took a hit, scoring just twice in 14 games. He ended his first season at Forest with 17 goals in 41 appearances – he was the Reds’ top-scorer in a league season for the decade beginning in 2010 as he out-gunned Britt Assombalonga‘s 15 goals from the 2014/15 season.

The following season saw Grabban continue his goalscoring exploits, beating his record the previous year. Deployed as a lone striker under new boss Sabri Lamouchi, the forward became the first Forest striker to score 20 goals in a single campaign since David Johnson and Marlon Harewood in 2002/03.

2) Britt Assombalonga, £6.21 million

Transfermarkt claim that the value of Assombalonga’s 2014 move to Forest was £6.21 million. The initial fee was reported to be in the rumour of £5.5 million; however, various clauses meant this increased further.

Arriving in July 2017 as Forest’s then-most-expensive signing, the striker quickly settled into life at the City Ground.

An impressive 15 goals in 27 Championship starts made Assombalonga a popular character among Reds fans, but a knee injury against Wigan Athletic meant the forward was suddenly facing 14 months on the sidelines.

On September 2, 2016, he signed a five-year contract with Forest after starting the 2016/17 season with three goals. He ended the Championship season as Forest’s top goalscorer, having scored 14 goals from 20 starts and 12 substitute appearances.

In July 2017, however, the fan-favourite was sold to Middlesbrough for a reported club-record fee of £15 million.

1) Joao Carvalho, £13.5 million

A creative force that has gone to waste, Joao Carvalho’s spell at Nottingham Forest has been a mixed one at best.

The clever attacking midfielder proved a bright spark having arrived from Benfica in June 2018 under Sabri Lamouchi ahead of the 2019/20 season. Whilst Carvalho may not have been involved in the glamour of goals and assists, the Portuguese middle-man used an array of skills and passes to create opportunities for his team-mates.

Carvalho became the most expensive signing by Nottingham Forest when he signed for a fee reported by Transfermarkt as £13.5 million. The midfielder has, however, never been utilised to his full potential at the City Ground with neither O’Neill nor Lamouchi choosing to deploy an attacking midfielder.

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