Nottingham Forest smashed their transfer record to sign Morgan Gibbs-White for a huge £42.5m… but what can their fans expect from the former England Under 17 World Cup winner with just ONE Premier League goal in nearly 50 games?
- Nottingham Forest have signed Morgan Gibbs-White for a club record £42.5m
- The transfer fee for the former Wolves starlet has shocked fans and pundits
- The midfielder has added just one goal and assist in 48 Premier League games
- But Gibbs-White starred in the Championship last year for Sheffield United
Nottingham Forest’s return to the Premier League after 23 years away was never going to be dull.
The transfer business conducted by Steve Cooper’s side continues to be one of the stories of the summer, raising eyebrows throughout English football.
After they confirmed the club record signing of Morgan Gibbs-White for £42.5million, the former Wolves starlet became the 16th new arrival at the City Ground bringing their total outlay up to £150m.
Morgan Gibbs-White joined Nottingham Forest from Wolves for a club record £42.5m fee
The former Wolves starlet leaves the club after making just 48 Premier League appearances
Forest boss Steve Cooper previously coached Gibbs-White at Swansea and England Under 17s
Fans and pundits alike have gasped at the transfer fee, with the midfielder only registering one goal and one assist in 48 Premier League games over the past four years, as the 22-year-old was unable to nail down a regular place at Wolves.
Forest’s pursuit of Gibbs-White has been relentless, with Wolves turning down a number of bids from the Premier League newcomers, before relenting on Thursday, having completed a move for Sporting Lisbon’s Matheus Nunes for £38m.
Gibbs-White has been relentlessly pursued by Forest and takes their summer spending up to £150m on their return to the top flight
Everton also chased the England youth star, but the midfielder was reportedly keen on a move to the City Ground and linking up again with his former England Under 17 and Swansea manager Cooper, after he excelled on loan at Sheffield United in the Championship last year.
Gibbs-White had impressed Bruno Lage at Wolves in pre-season but his reluctance to sign a new contract has forced the club’s hand to cash in on their young star.
He was though still selected for Wolves’ opening two games of the season – playing the full 90 minutes in the 2-1 defeat at Leeds as well as the draw against Fulham.
Gibbs-White is expected to add versatility to the Forest midfield where he can play anywhere in a three. He is also flexible enough to feature in a central role behind strikers or even play just off the main striker.
But what do we know about Forest’s new signing? Sportsmail takes a look …
Breakthrough at Molineux
After joining Wolves as an eight-year-old, Gibbs-White was tipped as one of the academy’s top prospects throughout his teenage years.
He was given his debut by Paul Lambert in an FA Cup clash against Stoke City as a 16-year-old and he’s been on the fringes of the first team ever since.
He was part of the Wolves side that romped to the Championship title in 2017-18 with nearly 100 points, making 13 appearances.
However, he was brought to wider attention by being part of the victorious England Under 17 side that won the World Cup in 2017.
Gibbs-White excelled in midfield at the tournament in India, as he featured in every game and scored twice, including in the final when England beat Spain 5-2.
Gibbs-White made his debut for Wolves at 16 but struggled to nail down a regular place
The midfielder starred for England alongside Phil Foden at the Under 17 World Cup in 2017
He starred alongside some of the Premier League’s brightest young talents including Phil Foden and Marc Guehi at the tournament.
Gibbs-White kicked on following the World Cup and played 26 times the following season in Wolves’ return to the Premier League.
This included a sensational cameo display in a 3-2 defeat by Tottenham in November 2018 when Gibbs-White was introduced at 3-0 down with just 30 minutes to go but tore Spurs apart.
After the game, Danny Murphy raved about the midfielder, who was still only 18 at the time.
‘It’s very rare you see someone at this age and say wow,’ Murphy told Match of the Day.
‘His vision and the effect he had in such a short space of time was brilliant. His ability to run with the ball was amazing and I think he is exactly the type of player we’re crying out for.
‘When Wolves brought him on they had better energy and his ability to look up and see that killer pass… he was sensational.’
However, Gibbs-White was hampered by Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s decision to switch to a 3-5-2 formation and he failed to nail down a first team spot.
He made just one Premier League start the following season in a frustrating campaign and this led to him going out on loan in search of regular football.
Loan spells away from Wolves
In August 2020, Gibbs-White joined Swansea City on a season-long loan and was reunited with his former England Under 17 coach Cooper, who was in charge at the Liberty Stadium.
His spell in South Wales was a frustrating one however, as he fractured his foot in just his fourth game.
The midfielder had impressed, adding a goal and an assist as the Swans had nine points out of a possible 10 but he missed three months of action before returning in January.
However, he was then recalled by Wolves and promised game time by the club, but this didn’t materialise as he made just five starts in the second half of the season.
This was to the frustration of Gibbs-White and the relationship between the club and player started to break down.
Speaking the following campaign, after he had impressed in the early stages of a season-long loan with Sheffield United, he reflected on his experiences at Molineux.
The 22-year-old spent a period on loan at Swansea but struggled with injury and was recalled
He excelled at Sheffield United, winning Player and Young Player of the Year for the Blades
‘As a young player all you want to do is play games. When you don’t get games it’s frustrating, you get angry.
‘At Wolves I wasn’t getting the game time I wanted so the recognition wasn’t there.
‘It needs to happen (playing regularly) this season and I want it to happen. I’m trying to concentrate on getting as many goals and assists as I can.
‘I feel I’m at a stage in my career where I’m ready to play week in, week out. Going to Sheffield United was the right move because I didn’t want to be sat on the bench at a Premier League team. I’m enjoying every minute of it.
Gibbs-White was clearly happy at Bramall Lane and he was superb all season until the Blades lost in the play-off semi-finals on penalties to Nottingham Forest.
He scored 12 goals and added 10 assists and was voted Sheffield United’s Player and Young Player of the Year, highlighting his status as someone too good for the Championship.
Why didn’t it work out at Wolves?
There was no doubt this was a big summer for Gibbs-White after his excellent campaign and it was felt it was now or never for the midfielder to succeed at Wolves.
Wanderers’ manager Bruno Lage was reportedly a big fan of the 22-year-old and was keen to keep him as part of his first team, demonstrated by Gibbs-White playing the full 90 minutes of their opening two Premier League games.
However, the overtures of Forest eventually became too much to resist, especially after Wolves were presented with the opportunity to complete the signing of Matheus Nunes for a club-record £38m.
The inability of the midfielder to kick on into a regular starter over the past five years has held his development back, with Gibbs-White keen for a fresh start.
Gibbs-White had started both of Wolves’ Premier League fixtures so far this season
Bruno Lage was reportedly keen to keep Gibbs-White but the £42.5m fee was too good to resist
He leaves the club having played 88 times, scoring three goals and adding one assist, but only 30 of these were starts.
2018-19 remains his most prolific season in terms of appearances at the club, playing 26 times, but just five of these were starts.
His relationship with the club and fans also hasn’t been the best, with Gibbs-White disciplined by the club for breaking lockdown rules when he attended a party in London with Love Island stars in May 2020.
His girlfriend, Britney De Villiers has received significant abuse from fans although she has reportedly been spotted liking negative tweets about the club.
It was felt among Wolves fans that Gibbs-White wouldn’t quite reach his level at the club, but he still has plenty to give, with Forest acquiring an England Under 21 international and a rising star of the Premier League.
There do have to be question marks raised over spending more than £40m on someone unproven in the Premier League, but Forest won’t care one bit if the midfielder helps them to avoid relegation.
In reality, Gibbs-White has never quite fulfilled all of his undoubted potential at Molineux, and with the mammoth fee, coupled with Gibbs-White’s desire to be reunited with Cooper at the City Ground, it is a move that made sense for both parties.
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