Nottingham Forest have been dealt the first blow of their Premier League return as it has emerged that standout shot-stopper Brice Samba will look to leave the club this summer.
Samba played a key role in their promotion, keeping 14 clean sheets in their Championship season and then saving three penalties in the play-off semi-final win over Sheffield United to etch himself into folklore at the City Ground.
However, his current contract runs out in 2023, and despite the attempts by manager Steve Cooper and owner Evangelos Marinakis, they have been unable to entice the 28-year-old into signing a new one.
As per the Athletic, Samba views the new offer as unacceptable, though they are quick to stress that 'Samba’s decision to turn down the offer and reluctantly seek an exit is said not to be financially motivated but about respect for his achievements, importance and popularity at the City Ground'.
It means that, should Forest want to be able to extract any sort of fee for one of their star performers, they will need to look to get rid of him this summer.
Nick Pope the replacement?
There has been plenty of speculation already about a potential replacement, with Burnley shot-stopper Nick Pope just one of the names mentioned.
Pope could well be looking to move away from the Lancashire club this summer as he targets a place in Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad come November, something that will likely be easier to achieve should he remain in the top flight.
And, looking across the Premier League clubs, there are very few who could benefit from a new no.1. Newcastle United are on the hunt, while Leicester City could also make a move for a new goalkeeper should Kasper Schmeichel call time on his King Power career.
However, regular game time at the City Ground may not be the worst idea in the world for the 30-year-old.