This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…
According to a report from TeamTalk, Nottingham Forest are closing in on a deal to sign French midfielder Ilyas El Khabchi.
The report states that the 21-year-old has been on trial at the City Ground, having been released from French fifth-tier side Jura Dolois, and has clearly done enough to impress boss Sabri Lamouchi if they are considering turning that trial into a permanent deal for the rest of the campaign.
Whilst he may not be a household name in England, that should not put fans off straight away. N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez were both plucked from the French leagues despite not being well known on these shores, and they’ve both since gone on to win Premier League titles.
According to TeamTalk, Lamouchi is keen to test El Khabchi at U23 level before potentially promoting him to the senior squad. So where would he fit into the system at Nottingham Forest, should he eventually make his way up to the starting XI?
Whilst a lot isn’t known about El Khabchi, at least we know that he is an attacking midfielder, and based on his records from GlobalSportsArchive, we also know that he has a goal in his back pocket, with a record of 13 goals in 35 games for Jura Dolois. Contrast that to only two assists in the same time span, and it’s clear that he is very much a finisher rather than a creator.
If scoring goals is more his forte than setting them up, then he should be able to fit in the current Forest 4-2-3-1 system right behind Lewis Grabban in the middle of the attacking midfield three.
It’s obviously difficult to tell whether or not he’ll be able to replicate his form from France in the Championship or how long it’d take him to do so.
But if he can, perhaps he’ll be able to take some of the pressure off Grabban as the team’s main goal threat by chipping in every now and again, potentially through exploiting the space Forest’s front-man creates when occupying defenders.