With the season coming to a close, it means changes will be afoot at Nottingham Forest in the coming weeks.
There will be players departing when their contracts end, loanees heading back to their parent clubs and others returning to the City Ground from spells elsewhere.
Among the latter category will be a certain Joao Carvalho.
The Portuguese has divided opinion for much of his time Trentside, and it looks like being no different this summer.
It is unclear what the future holds for the Reds’ record signing, following a season-long loan stint at Almeria.
Here’s a look at the situation as things stand.
How has this year gone for Carvalho?
Up and down. He seems to have struggled for consistency – as was the case when he was wearing the Garibaldi.
He has made 27 league appearances for Almeria, with 11 of those coming from off the bench, and has not found the back of the net.
The midfielder hit a purple patch midway through the campaign, but his form for the Spanish second division side is said to have tailed off since then.
He is said to have struggled to make an impact in games.
What happens next?
Almeria do have an option to buy the Portuguese, but the suggestion is it is unlikely they will take that up, based on his recent form.
Nico Garcia, who covers the club for Spanish sports newspaper AS, told NottinghamshireLive recently: “If Carvalho does not improve the level of him shown in recent weeks, Almería will not exercise the purchase option.
“If he shows the level he did in December and January, they may be looking to reach a new agreement, perhaps another transfer, as happened with Fran Villalba.”
If the option isn’t taken up, Carvalho will be back at the City Ground this summer.
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Does he have a future at Forest?
It’s difficult to say, but the road ahead does look uncertain.
Forest boss Chris Hughton has kept tabs on all of the club’s loanees and says his summer audit of his squad will encompass all of those under contract.
Other players have come in from the cold under Hughton, who has shown he is willing to give players a chance. Gaetan Bong, for example, had been frozen out under Sabri Lamouchi after a forgettable debut but has racked up minutes since the Frenchman was replaced.
If a move to Almeria isn’t forthcoming and there are no other takers (there hasn’t been any teams linked with Carvalho), the 24-year-old will be back for pre-season training with the Reds.
Hughton will get the opportunity to make a proper assessment then.
Forest do need to strengthen their attacking resources and there is a vacancy for the No.10 spot, so if Carvalho can impress, that would help solve a problem.
He will need to show he can contribute to a collective defensive effort, though. Hughton’s tough-to-beat style involves the whole team chipping in.
That’s not one of Carvalho’s strengths, and Garcia said he needed “a greater defensive balance”, when assessing his game for Almeria.
What’s been said?
Reds defender Joe Worrall got fans talking when he slipped in what may well have been a throwaway comment about Carvalho when speaking to a supporter over a video call.
The centre-back said: “It will be interesting because we’ve got Carvalho. Joao’s got to come back from his loan. He’s somebody who could be massive for Forest in the future.”
Meanwhile, Hughton has said he has followed the progress of Carvalho and the rest of Forest’s players out on loan.
“I have kept tabs on them,” he said.
“Because of our schedule, what I haven’t been able to do is visually watch the amount of games on tape as I would like to.
“But I’m fully up to speed on their performances and games they’re playing.
“All of them will come into our thinking over the next few weeks and couple of months, as regards what we want to do come the summer and next season.
“But I am very conscious of all of those who are contracted to this club that in theory will be with us on the first day of pre-season, unless otherwise.”
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