Why Nottingham Forest should reignite their interest in Mehdi Zeffane
Back in July, a report from Nottinghamshire Live claimed that Nottingham Forest were weighing up a move for right-back Mehdi Zeffane, who was then a free agent following his release from French outfit Rennes.
Having played under the management of Sabri Lamouchi at Rennes, there seemed to be some substance in those rumours linking Zeffane with a move to the City Ground this summer but in the end, nothing came to fruition and Forest eventually signed Carl Jenkinson from Arsenal to provide cover and competition for Tendayi Darikwa at right-back.
Lamouchi, who took over the reins from Martin O’Neill earlier in the summer, inherited a big squad at his new club but the Frenchman decided that a squad overhaul was the need of the hour if Forest were to challenge for promotion.
Consequently, the two-time European Cup winners welcomed as many as 12 new players through the door in the summer transfer window, including several little-known entities like Chema Rodriguez, Tiago Silva, Brice Samba and Sam Sow, whilst others like Soudani, Arvin Appiah, Ben Osborn and Adlene Guedioura headed for the exit.
Fast forwarding the sequence of events to mid-October, it is easy to see that most of Lamouchi’s gambles in the summer window have paid off, with several of the new recruits surpassing expectations and playing a key role in the club’s surge up the standings.
The Reds have already laid down an early marker as one of the strong promotion contenders this term and there is an air of optimism at the City Ground that the current squad has all it takes to end the club’s long exile from the Premier League, which has stretched over two decades.
With that in mind, however, Forest’s recent slump in form is likely to give Lamouchi some food for thought. The Reds were the joint pace-setters with West Brom in the Championship a few days back but two consecutive defeats in a row against Wigan Athletic and Hull City have sent them crashing down to 9th in the standings.
Well, highs and lows are all a part and parcel of a 46-game campaign as far as any team is concerned, but Forest still have some gaping holes to plug in their squad in January, with right-back being an area which is definitely in need of some immediate attention.
Jenkinson played just 3 games in the Championship before suffering an injury and joining Darikwa on the treatment table. The latter is expected to be out of action for an extended period as he continues to recover from a cruciate ligament injury while the extent of Jenkinson’s travails is yet to be known.
That has forced Lamouchi to field Matty Cash in an unfamiliar right-back role in the Championship and while the 22-year-old has done his reputation no harm in his new position, it is imperative to say that the lack of specialist options could come back to haunt Forest sooner or later.
Indeed, Cash has been one of Forest’s standout performers so far but his best qualities are undoubtedly utilised further up the pitch in a more advanced role.
To that end, Mehdi Zeffane is still a free agent and Nottingham Forest going back in the market for the Algerian’s services would definitely make a lot of sense.
Given the plethora of Ligue 1 experience in his CV, it is amazing that the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations winner is yet to find himself a new club, but the Reds should be wise enough to look at him as an immediate solution to their right-back woes.
Forest shouldn’t have any problems in registering him outside of the transfer window and while he might take a little bit of time to regain his fitness levels, having been without a club for the past few months, one would eventually expect him to make a big impact on the English second-tier.
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Zeffane’s well-rounded qualities at both ends of the pitch, coupled with Lamouchi’s knowledge of the player and his availability on a free transfer should make it an absolute no-brainer for Forest to snap him up at the earliest.
That being said, Lamouchi’s reunion with Mehdi Zeffane at the City Ground could go a long way towards solving Forest’s right-back conundrum.