Nottingham Forest Opinion: A-League star Brandon O’Neill could be a good bargain for the club
The 25-year-old central midfielder is out of contract at the end of the month and Nottingham Post suggests that he has been closely monitored by Forest’s scouts.
However, if Nottingham Forest are really interested in bringing the Australian international to the City Ground this summer, Martin O’Neill’s side would need to fend off interest from fellow Championship outfits Bristol City, Blackburn Rovers and QPR, as well as League One sides Ipswich Town and Portsmouth. (h/t Nottinghamshire Live)
O’Neill contributed with 3 goals and 8 assists in 39 appearances across all competitions for Sydney FC this past season. The 25-year-old was one of the key architects of his club’s title-winning A-League campaign, as Sydney FC beat Perth Glory in the 2019 A-League Grand Final to clinch their fourth domestic title.
O’Neill initially caught the eye of Perth Glory with his performances for Western Australian non-league side ECU Joondalup earlier in his career before the A-League giants offered him a professional contract back in 2012.
The midfielder, however, failed to make much of an impact in the first-team at Perth and registered only 17 appearances in all competitions over the course of three seasons before being demoted to the club’s youth ranks.
The 25-year-old was offered an escape route by Sydney FC back in the summer of 2015 and he hasn’t looked back since then, establishing himself as one of the most productive central defensive midfielders in the Australian top-flight.
O’Neill has progressed by leaps and bounds over the past few campaigns and his spell at Sydney FC has proven to be a trophy-laden one, with the midfield enforcer winning as many as five trophies, including the A-League title twice.
O’Neill has accumulated a total of 9 goals and 10 assists in 127 appearances for Sydney FC in all competitions till date and his impressive performances earned him his first senior international call-up against South Korea in March.
The 25-year-old has virtually lifted all possible silverware in his homeland and the time might just be right for him to test his credentials at a higher level.
To put things into perspective, Brandon O’Neill is regarded as one of the best central midfielders in the A-League and there is no reason why Nottingham Forest shouldn’t consider playing a gamble on him.
Aaron Mooy is a perfect example of a player who has made the step up from the A-League to the Premier League in recent years and O’Neill seemingly has the talent to emulate his compatriot’s success in English football.
Forest missed out on securing a spot in the playoffs last season but they will be expected to post a better challenge for promotion next term.
Martin O’Neill probably needs to add a bit more firepower to his forward to enhance the club’s chances of making it to the playoffs but a new central midfielder also fits the bill, with the likes of Ben Watson (33) and Adlene Guedioura (33) nearing the final stages of their careers and loanee Pele set to return to his parent club Monaco.
Forest still have the likes of Claudio Yacob and Ryan Yates as viable options in the middle but someone like Brandon O’Neill could possibly add another dimension to the manager’s options with his energetic presence and tough-tackling nature.
Adept at breaking up the play with crucial tackles and interceptions, the 25-year-old is also very good from direct set-pieces and has a big reputation for scoring crucial goals from free-kicks.
It is true that the A-League is a lot different from the Championship in terms of quality, intensity and physicality, and while O’Neill’s success in his homeland hardly guarantees the same in the English second-tier, it won’t be a bad idea for Forest to try their luck.
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The 25-year-old still has a lot of time left in his career to make improvements to his game and acclimatise to the style of play prevalent in England.
Thus, the fans at the City Ground have every reason to expect big things from the Australian international next season if Forest manage to get this deal over the line.