Since earning a long-awaited return to the Premier League last summer, Nottingham Forest have been the top flight’s most relentless club when it comes to transfer activity, putting even big-spending Chelsea in the shade.
After gaining promotion from the Championship via the playoffs, Forest urgently needed to flesh out a thin squad in order to cope with the rigours of competing at an elite level. It made a big splash by signing 21 new players during the summer of 2022.
That was enough to smash the British record for signings made by one club during a single transfer window by eclipsing the 19 players that arrived at Scottish sides Dundee (summer of 2000) and Livingston (2001).
After a very rocky start to life in the Premier League that saw Steve Cooper’s side win just one of their first 11 games, Forest gradually began to find their feet and avoid being cut adrift at the bottom of the table, to the point where they enter February in 13th place, four points above the relegation zone.
In an effort to improve their chances of survival, the Reds picked up where they left off in the summer and have added several more signings to their roster in January, with no fewer than seven new faces joining the ranks on Trentside. Oh, and let’s not forget the three free agents they recruited outside of the two transfer windows, just to keep the club’s HR department on its toes.
So exactly who makes up Forest’s vast troupe of 2022-23 signings? Let’s meet them all.
1. Taiwo Awoniyi (£17.5m, Union Berlin)
The first of the summer arrivals to break the club’s transfer record (but not the last), ex-Liverpool striker Awoniyi was plucked from Union Berlin after scoring 20 goals in 43 games for the German club last season.
2. Dean Henderson (season-long loan, Manchester United)
On the books at Manchester United from the age of 14, Henderson progressed through the youth ranks but was regularly sent out on loan in search of experience, eventually cracking the Premier League while on loan with Sheffield United in 2020-21. The goalkeeper made 13 league appearances for United the following season, but with David de Gea impossible to shake off the No. 1 spot, the 25-year-old opted for yet another loan at Forest in a bid to advance his chances of making England’s 2022 World Cup squad, although he wasn’t selected for the trip to Qatar.
A 22-year-old full-back who started his career with Monaco before taking in unremarkable stints at Monaco’s Belgian partner club Cercle Brugge and back in France with Ligue 1 side Troyes, for whom he played 33 times last season.
A former under-21 international for France, the tough 26-year-old centre-back was a mainstay for Mainz over the past few years, making well over 120 Bundesliga appearances for the club in his four-year stint in Germany.
5. Omar Richards (£7.7m, Bayern Munich)
Not many players can claim to have transferred directly between Reading and Bayern Munich, but that’s exactly the path taken by left-back Richards when he signed for the German giants in the summer of 2021. The former England U21 international made just five league starts for the Bavarians in his debut year and therefore felt the time was right to cut his contract short and return to England.
6. Neco Williams (£18m, Liverpool)
I’m proud to announce I’ve signed for @NFFC ! Excited for this new challenge and to help this great club move forward in the @premierleague . Can’t wait to get going and to play in the famous city ground. Now it’s go time !!!🌳🔴 pic.twitter.com/xXLCLYv9fI
— Neco Williams (@necowilliams01) July 11, 2022
One of Forest’s bigger summer outlays saw Wales international Williams arrive at the City Ground. The 21-year-old right-back came through the academy ranks at Liverpool but was restricted to just a handful of first-team appearances after finding himself stuck behind the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold in the pecking order.
7. Wayne Hennessey (free, Burnley)
Brought in as experienced back-up for Henderson, the 35-year-old Wales goalkeeper has played 183 times in the Premier League over the years for Wolves, Crystal Palace and Burnley.
8. Brandon Aguilera (£855k, LD Alajuelense)
The young Costa Rica international midfielder was signed by Forest as an U23 player and immediately sent back out on loan to former side Guanacasteca, where he previously spent the 2021-22 campaign on loan from Alajuelense.
9. Lewis O’Brien (£8.5m, Huddersfield Town)
Despite being part of the Huddersfield team that lost against Forest in the Championship playoff final, central defender O’Brien still managed to squeeze his way up into the Premier League by simply signing for the winning team. Had been linked with a January move back down to the second tier with Blackburn Rovers.
10. Harry Toffolo (£2.2m, Huddersfield Town)
The second Terrier to sign for Forest after losing out at Wembley, full-back Toffolo completed his move to the City Ground on the same day as teammate O’Brien in a £10m double swoop. Just like O’Brien, Toffolo was reportedly close to joining Belgian club Anderlecht in the run-up to the January deadline.
11. Jesse Lingard (free, Manchester United)
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) July 21, 2022
After being deemed surplus to Erik ten Hag’s requirements, Lingard was allowed to leave Manchester United on a free transfer. Despite former club West Ham making their interest known, the 29-year-old England international opted to join Forest on a one-year deal.
12. Orel Mangala (£11.7m, Stuttgart)
Mangala has represented Belgium all the way from under-15s to full senior level. After beginning his career with Anderlecht, the combative defensive midfielder joined Stuttgart in 2017 and made over 100 appearances for the German club.
13. Emmanuel Dennis (£20m, Watford)
Forest made a song and dance about their signing of Dennis from Watford after the striker scored 10 goals in the Premier League last season. Unfortunately the 24-year-old’s impressive output wasn’t enough to prevent the Hornets from being relegated.
14. Cheikhou Kouyate (free, Crystal Palace)
Able to play in midfield or defence, the versatile 32-year-old Senegal international is well seasoned when it comes to the rigours of the Premier League, having played 261 times in the top flight with West Ham and Crystal Palace.
15. Remo Freuler (£7.6m, Atalanta BC)
Freuler spent his early career in his native Switzerland before joining Italian side Atalanta in 2016. The midfielder made over 200 appearances for the Serie A outfit before making the switch to Forest this summer, also winning 46 caps for his national side at the time of his signing.
— Morgan Gibbs-White (@Morgangibbs27) August 19, 2022
The second deal to break Forest’s club transfer record over the course of the summer saw Gibbs-White reunited with Cooper, having previously played under the Welshman as part of England’s 2017 Under-17 World Cup-winning team. The 22-year-old forward, whose fee could rise to £42.5m with add-ons, spent the 2021-22 season on loan with Sheffield United in the Championship, scoring 11 goals in 35 games.
17. Hwang Ui-Jo (£3.6m, Bordeaux)
The 30-year-old South Korea international striker was signed on a permanent deal and loaned to Olympiakos for the 2022-23 season. The Greek club are also owned by Marinakis, Forest’s majority owner.
Brazilian left-back Lodi joined Atletico Madrid in 2019 and played over 80 times for the Spanish club, even scoring against Manchester United in the Champions League round of 16 last season.
19. Willy Boly (£2.3m, Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Experienced centre-back Boly was the first new face to show up at Forest on deadline day of the summer window as the 31-year-old defender signed a two-year deal after making it clear he wanted to move from Wolves.
20. Josh Bowler (£2.1m, Blackpool)
The transfer that broke the British record for number of signings in a single window, 23-year-old winger Bowler was brought in from Blackpool on transfer deadline and immediately loaned out to Olympiakos for the remainder of the season.
21. Loic Bade (loan, Rennes)
The record-extending signing of a hectic summer window for Forest saw right-back Bade join on a season-long loan from Ligue 1 side Rennes.
22. Sergie Aurier (free transfer)
There were reports circulating late on deadline day that Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi might sneak through as signing No. 22, but a delay in negotiations saw a deal for the Belgium striker fall through just as the window closed. However, former Tottenham and PSG right-back Serge Aurier was a free agent after being released by Villarreal at the end of June, and his arrival at the City Ground on Sept. 7 took Forest’s total summer signings to 22. That’s enough players to (with a little creativity in terms of positions) field two full teams.
23. Adnan Kanuric (free transfer)
Formerly of Stoke City, young Austrian-born goalkeeper Kanuric was signed as a free agent in September having last been on the books at FK Sarajevo of the Bosnia and Herzegovinian Premier League.
24. Gustavo Scarpa (free, Palmeiras)
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) December 4, 2022
Brazilian attacking midfielder Scarpa became Forest’s first signing of the winter window when he arrived at the City Ground on the first day of January following the expiration of his contract at Palmeiras. Capped once at international level, the 29-year-old made his Premier League debut against Southampton just a few days later.
25. Danilo (£17.8m, Palmeiras)
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) January 16, 2023
Following hot on the heels of his former Palmeiras teammate, highly rated midfielder Danilo joined Scarpa at Forest just two weeks later, signing a mammoth six-and-a-half-year contract with the Reds. He has already featured twice; once in the Premier League against Bournemouth and once in the Carabao Cup against Manchester United.
26. Chris Wood (loan, Newcastle)
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) January 20, 2023
The strapping centre-forward was brought in on loan as a replacement for the injured Awoniyi, adding some much-needed Premier League experience to the Forest front line. The 31-year-old New Zealand international made his debut against Bournemouth but is still awaiting his first goal.
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) January 31, 2023
Despite supposedly facing stiff competition from several other European clubs, Forest were able to bolster their defensive options with the signing of Atletico centre-back Felipe. The 33-year-old becomes the fourth Brazilian to be added to Cooper’s squad since the summer after signing an 18-month contract.
28. Jonjo Shelvey (£6.1m, Newcastle)
Welcome to Nottingham Forest, Jonjo Shelvey! 👊 #ShelveySigns 🌳
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) January 31, 2023
Shelvey was confirmed to be undergoing a medical at the City Ground this week ahead of his switch from high-flying Newcastle. The 30-year-old central midfielder has signed a two-year contract with Forest having struggled for game time under Eddie Howe, making just three appearances in the Premier League this term.
He’s here. ✨ pic.twitter.com/UrByDltybn
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) February 2, 2023
With first-choice goalkeeper Henderson ruled out for the foreseeable future, who better for two-time European Cup winners Forest to turn to as temporary cover than a highly decorated, vastly experienced, three-time Champions League winning deputy? Struggling to dislodge Gianluigi Donnarumma at his parent club, 36-year-old Navas has agreed to keep goal for Forest until the end of the season in what could prove to be a real transfer coup for Forest.
Another free agent
30. Andre Ayew (free transfer)
Welcome, André! 🇬🇭 pic.twitter.com/q5h6N077XS
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) February 2, 2023
The 30th and (so far) final arrival at Forest this season came the day after the deadline had passed when Ghana international Ayew arrived as a free agent following his recent departure from Qatari side Al Sadd.
Signed on a short-term deal until the end of the season, the well-travelled 33-year-old striker will be hoping to add to the 21 goals he has already scored in the Premier League during previous stints at Swansea and West Ham.
(Editor’s note: this article has been updated since it was first published on Sept. 2, 2022)