This piece is part of our ‘End of Season Report’ feature, where here at Nottingham Forest News we will reflect and mark the performances of our squad from the Championship campaign that recently concluded.
Kicking things off we assess Congolese goalkeeper Brice Samba. The uncompromising performer was a surprise arrival back in August 2019.
The deal which saw him check-in at the City Ground came out of the blue not least because Forest already had a plethora of goalkeepers on their books.
Aro Muric had seemingly arrived to be the first-choice stopper on loan from Manchester City; with Jordan Smith, Costel Pantilimon and Luke Steele all waiting in the wings.
It soon became apparent that Steele and Pantilimon were surplus to requirements and they both headed out on loan.
Many fans presumed Samba would act as a deputy for Muric, with the intention of taking over the gloves when his loan spell ended in the summer.
After a haphazard debut for the Kosovan, however, people suggested Samba would get a chance sooner rather than later.
The 26-year-old made a steady debut against Fleetwood Town in the EFL Cup, keeping a clean sheet during a 1-0 victory.
He was then back on the bench as Muric kept his only clean sheet in Forest colours against Birmingham City and during a 1-1 draw at Charlton.
The following week provided the catalyst for his season. A sound performance in a 3-0 win over Derby in the EFL Cup was followed up by a brilliant league debut during a 2-1 win over Fulham.
He would then play in 41 consecutive league games before injury ruled him out of the games against Barnsley and Stoke at the end of the season.
Summary – Value for money and could still improve
Arriving at the club for £1.8 million, Samba has more than justified his valuation to the football club.
He kept 15 clean sheets in all competitions and showcased speed, agility and commanded his box superbly well.
Samba wasn’t without imperfections and his form wasn’t quite as convincing following the restart.
Despite that, he has been a good signing for the Reds and might be considered by some as the signing of the season by some supporters.
Samba adheres himself to supporters with his sometimes unorthodox goalkeeping and also his regular displays of gamesmanship that can rile opposition players and supporters alike.
It’s fair to say that Samba could become Forest’s number one goalkeeper for many years to come.