Nottingham Forest are interested in Moussa Niakhate to improve Steve Cooper’s side after securing promotion, which could make the Mainz star the club’s 12th French player so far.
The City Ground natives are eager to bolster Cooper’s defensive options in efforts to avoid an instant return to the Championship. Nottingham Forest will contest their first season in the Premier League since 1999 next term after beating Huddersfield Town in the play-offs.
Niakhate now features on Nottingham Forest’s shortlist of possible targets after captaining Mainz to eighth-place in the Bundesliga last term. Die Nullfunfer boss Christian Heidel gave the 26-year-old the armband ahead of the season, and would field him in 30 league games.
Nottingham Forest among Premier League sides interested in Mainz’s Niakhate
The centre-half repaid Heidel’s faith with four goals and just one caution all campaign over 2,567 minutes of action. His haul included goals against RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich, and now has the former France U21 defender sought after in the Premier League.
Reports by Bild claim Nottingham Forest are the first club to formally express their interest by making Mainz an offer for Niakhate. But Sky Germany reporter Florian Plettenberg adds the MEWA Arena natives deemed the bid worth far below €10m (£8.5m) to be ‘ridiculous’.
Additionally, Plettenberg notes Mainz have no willingness to even debate selling Niakhate this summer to complicate negotiations. But the Roubaix native is out of contract in 2023, and The Telegraph cite interest from Everton, West Ham and Newcastle, plus in Germany.
Nottingham Forest advancing their interest and Mainz accepting an improved offer would see Niakhate leave Die Nullfunfer after four years. Any move to England would also be his first in the country, having only previously played in France before his switch to Germany.
Niakhate being interested in joining Nottingham Forest from Mainz this summer could also see the 6 ft 2 defender become the City Ground natives’ 12th French player so far. So, with that in mind, who have been the East Midlands outfit’s top-five stars from France to date?
Louis-Jean can be Niakhate’s inspiration amid Nottingham Forest interest
Mathieu Louis-Jean can be Niakhate’s muse at the City Ground, amid Nottingham Forest’s interest in the Mainz enforcer’s potential transfer. The right-back spent seven years in the East Midlands after joining on loan from Le Havre in 1998/99 before making it permanent.
The Mont-Saint-Aignan native had only played for Le Havre before securing his transfer to England. Yet he would feature 16 times during the 1998/99 Premier League campaign and went on to amass 213 appearances for Nottingham Forest in all competitions up to 2005.
Moussi made English arrival with Nottingham Forest from 2008 to 2014
Guy Moussi made his move to England with Nottingham Forest in 2008, having previously only played for Angers in France. The defensive midfielder would go on to spend six years at the City Ground, while spending part of his last season at Forest out on loan at Millwall.
He enjoyed 150 appearances with the East Midlands natives, scored three and created six goals in all competitions. Each of Moussi’s goals came in the 2009/10 Championship term.
Bonalair enjoyed sole spell on English soil with Nottingham Forest
Thierry Bonalair enjoyed his sole spell on English soil with Nottingham Forest from 1997 to 2000. The left-back moved to the East Midlands after two years at Swiss side Xamax, plus spells in his native France with Lille, Auxerre, Nantes and Amiens between 1983 and 1993.
Nottingham Forest would eventually sell Bonalair to FC Zurich for the final year of the 56-year-old’s career during 2000/01. But he had only made 51 appearances before departing.
Knockaert now Premier League-bound with Fulham after Forest loan spell
Anthony Knockaert is now set for Premier League football with Fulham next season after returning to Craven Cottage for their Championship title-winning 2021/22 campaign. The former France U21 forward had spent the previous term on loan with Nottingham Forest.
The City Ground natives loaned Knockaert upon Fulham sealing promotion to the top-flight for the 2020/21 campaign. Yet the 30-year-old only offered two goals and two assists over 34 second-tier appearances, of which he additionally started just 24 and earned a red card.
Friio saw out final 18 months of his career at the City Ground from 2005 to 2006
David Friio joined Nottingham Forest from Plymouth Argyle for what would be the final 18 months of his career. The midfielder moved to the City Ground during the January window in 2005, but only enjoyed 22 appearances before hanging up his boots the following year.
Gary Megson handed Friio 17 of his Nottingham Forest outings during the 2005/06 League One campaign, yet only started 11. His final outing also came in January 2006, so Niakhate would have a low bar to put his name among Nottingham Forest’s top-five French players.