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Nottingham Forest want James Garner in permanent deal

United academy graduate wants to play regularly with Ten Hag favouring experienced players

by Ayantan Chowdhury

One look at Manchester United’s current squad and the gaping hole in midfield becomes glaringly obvious. No wonder new manager Erik ten Hag wants to recruit Frenkie de Jong as the current options are just not good enough.

Previous Manchester United managers have tried a number of players in that defensive midfield position but none have successfully passed the test.

Nemanja Matic was the closest to the profile of player needed for that role but he arrived too late to influence proceedings on a regular basis.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ralf Rangnick and now Ten Hag have had to rely on the combination of Fred and Scott McTominay, both of whom have failed to impress for a long time now.

After the Brighton humbling, there have been calls for the Dutch manager to utilise James Garner in that deeper role after he impressed in the Championship with Nottingham Forest last season.

The United academy graduate played 49 games for Forest in the 2021-22 season as they earned promotion to the Premier League after a gap of 23 long years.

Forest want Garner back

According to the Daily Mail, Garner is once again wanted by Forest. Steve Cooper remains a big admirer of the young Englishman’s talents and wants to bring him back.

But the catch is that they have already acquired the services of Dean Henderson on loan from the Red Devils and according to Premier League rules, only a single player can arrive temporarily from one particular club.

And that means any deal for the 21-year-old will have to be a permanent one. United are unlikely to sanction such a deal at the moment considering the lack of squad depth.

Following last season’s impressive loan spell where he recorded four goals and 10 assists, Garner has time and again reiterated his desire to play more minutes at this crucial juncture of his career.

“It’s huge (next season). I feel like last season my career has only just started, I’m still young, just turned 21 couple of months ago. I’ve had such a good season this season, with the national team and at club level as well. As you said, it’s very important now to hopefully play in the Premier League next season,” Garner was quoted as saying earlier.

It remains to be seen if Ten Hag trusts the academy graduate so early on in the season especially with the level of scrutiny surrounding the club at the moment. Garner’s skill-set is more suited to the role in question but the Dutchman would prefer a more experienced alternative at this stage.

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