Nottingham Forest are currently without first choice left-back Max Lowe, who is out until the end of April with a groin injury, leaving 32-year-old midfielder Jack Colback to fill in at that spot as they seek a spot in the Championship play-off places.
However, if the East Midlands club acted on their interest five years ago in James Justin, they would have not only have had a 19-year-old Premier League potential defender on their hands back then, they would have had a more than adequate replacement for Lowe right now too.
According to The Sun back in 2017, Forest tabled a £1m bid for the then-Luton Town star, with former manager Mark Warburton of the belief that he was ready for Championship football.
However, that move failed to materialise, and Justin remained with the Hatters for another two seasons, helping them to extraordinary back-to-back promotions, leaving them with Championship football when he joined Leicester City in 2019 for a fee worth around £6m.
Establishing himself in his first season as one of the league’s biggest bargains that season, he ranked among full-backs in the Premier League across his debut campaign in the top flight in the top 4% for successful pressure percentage per 90 (36.5%), top 9% for successful dribble percentage per 90 (76.5%) and top 7% for ball recoveries per 90 (11.12).
Now aged 24 with a market valuation of £15.3m, a whopping 1430% more than the £1m fee Forest offered, the defender has become a versatile option for the Premier League side. He is able to fill in at both left-back and right-back when required, as well as possessing the intelligence and ability to play as a defensive midfielder.
Once described by Journalist Liam Canning as “class” and “first rate”, the Foxes full-back has begun to re-establish himself as a key man within Brendan Rodgers’ squad, having just returned from a cruciate ligament rupture injury, which kept him out of action for 331 days.
It’s clear that Forest made a monumental mistake not to sign Justin from Luton when he was a bargain pick-up for the club, and even if he couldn’t have helped the club towards promotion, he would have had an excellent re-sell rate that the Championship side have missed out on.