Nottingham Forest have completed their fifth summer signing in the form of Sheffield United forward Luke Freeman, as confirmed on the club’s official website.
The proven Championship performer adds a creative spark to the Reds going forward and is a player admired by Sabri Lamouchi for quite some time.
Freeman signed for the Blades from QPR last summer, with the South Yorkshiremen splashing £5 million on the player who typically operates in the No.10 role.
With the deal now completed, the question will be asked as to what Forest are getting in Freeman. Nottingham Forest News sat down with Sheffield United News journalist Lee Connor this past week to get the lowdown on the man set for the exit at Bramall Lane.
What are his strengths?
Connor told Nottingham Forest News: “He’s really comfortable in possession and is someone who always wants the ball in attacking areas. He has a really handy knack of being able to create something out of nothing, as he showed at Reading in the FA Cup last season and against Crystal Palace in the Premier League early on.”
Where might we spot weakness in his game?
Despite some pretty exciting strengths, Connor had some words of warning for the Reds, although they do seem quite minor.
“In terms of weaknesses, I guess he’s someone who is just suited to a team who plays with a No.10, which is his strongest position. I’m not quite sure he’s ideal to play as part of a flat midfield three and that’s where he’s suffered a bit with us”, the Blades writer advised Nottingham Forest News.
What position does he excel in?
As mentioned during Connor’s previous answer, Freeman is best utilised as a No.10 and if used properly the Sheffield United News writer thinks he could really take off at Forest.
He said: “We used him as more of a central midfield three but during his time at QPR he played in the hole behind the striker. He’s definitely a threat going forwards and if Forest play with a 4-2-3-1 he could fly.”
What’s gone wrong?
Finally, Connor clearly fancies Freeman as a decent enough player but some tough luck and misfortune have made his time at Bramall Lane a difficult one.
He said: “It’s hard to say something has gone wrong per se, it’s more a case of rotten luck if anything.
The biggest thing that went against him was we changed from playing with a No.10 to a flat midfield three.
He came in for John Fleck early on and did quite well but Wilder – quite rightly – loves Fleck and put him straight back in. From there, the Scot went on a run of being one of the best midfielders, form-wise, in the league!
Later in the season, he was unlucky again. Fleck was out but then post-lockdown Freeman also had a knock. That allowed someone who is no stranger to Forest fans, Ben Osborn, to come in and take the shirt. With those two both doing bits, Freeman was shunted down the pecking order.
Finally, nobody expected John Lundstram to do so well either, so that pushed him even further down the pecking order. It would have been interesting to see if the tweak in the system hadn’t worked with Lundstram if we’d have seen Wilder revert to our Championship system and handed Freeman more chances to impress.