The 21-year-old attacking midfielder, who started his career with Evian Thonon in France, is currently without a club following his release from semi-professional outfit Jura Dolois in the summer.
El Khabchi was spotted by the Reds’ scouting network while playing for Jura Dolois in the French fifth-tier and he is currently on trial with the U23 side at the City Ground. (h/t Nottinghamshire Live)
Now, as per the report, the diminutive 5ft 8-inch attacker impressed Nottingham Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi during his stint as a trialist. He is on the verge of putting pen to paper on a deal until the end of the 2019-20 season.
The same report adds that Forest are keen to tie the 21-year-old down to professional terms before any other club gets wind of his potential.
El Khabchi is likely to initially link up with the club’s U23 side in the Professional Development League, with a view to a potential call-up to the senior ranks somewhere down the line.
El Khabchi never made a professional appearance for Evian in his homeland and was last seen in action in the French fifth-tier, meaning that he would definitely need time to make the transition to senior men’s football in the gruelling atmosphere of the EFL Championship.
Meanwhile, a bright start to life under Lamouchi has seen Forest lay down an early marker as one of the promotion favourites in the Championship this term and there is a genuine feeling amongst the supporters at the City Ground that this could be the year when their long exile from the Premier League finally comes to an end.
The Reds are currently level on points with West Brom atop the league standings and Lamouchi has certainly done a commendable job in transforming the club’s fortunes in such a short interval of time, having only taken over the reins from Martin O’Neill back in the summer.
Forest’s recruitment policy in the summer window, which marked the arrival of little known entities like Chema Rodriguez, Sam Sow, Brice Samba, Tiago Silva, Yuri Ribeiro and Alfa Semedo, raised a few eyebrows.
If the first 11 games are anything to go by, the fans are likely to be happy with the kind of impact each new recruit in the summer has made thus far.
To put things into perspective, the prospect of signing an unproven player like Ilyas El Khabchi, who virtually has no professional experience at the highest level, looks like a big gamble for Nottingham Forest.
His availability as a free agent in the market, however, could work in favour of the player earning a deal at the City Ground.
Forest are currently reaping the rewards of Lamouchi’s masterstrokes in the summer window and, if the Frenchman rates Ilyas El Khabchi as a player who could potentially challenge for a first-team role in the near future, the club hierarchy should keep faith in the manager’s judgement.
Forest already have enough attacking midfielders in their ranks, with the likes of Albert Adomah, Sammy Ameobi, Joao Carvalho and Tiago Silva all vying for their respective places in the eleven but snapping up El Khabchi for free isn’t likely to do them much harm.
That being said, Nottingham Forest would be well within their rights to offer the 21-year-old professional terms.
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