Let’s get it straight, Joe Lolley has been absolutely superb this season for Forest. Registering 11 goals and 11 assists, Birmingham-born Red shouldered huge creative burdens for this Forest side- especially when Joao Carvalho was left out the starting 11. He weaves his way in and out of defenders like they’re training cones, possesses a venomous left-foot- as we saw against Villa with that thunderous, swerving strike from distance- partnered by an unassailable work-ethic and desire. At Championship level, a complete player- Forest’s player of the year- and, at around £500k, an absolute bargain. Aston Villa, though, fresh from their victory over Derby County in the play-off final (you love to see it) and looking to strengthen before the dawn of the Premier League, are reportedly preparing a £10m bid for Forest’s talisman. It isn’t a rumour straight out of the blue. This has been brewing for a long time, with it being common knowledge among Forest fans that Lolley has always dreamt of walking out the tunnel at Villa Park, sporting the iconic claret and blue, having supported the Brummie giants as a little boy.
Joe Lolley is fantastic, but is he Premier League ? He is an old-fashioned, almost Giggs-esque, one-dimensional dribbler- and is not blessed with electric pace. Defenders can easily wise up to that sort of thing- especially in the Premier League. On the wing, nowadays, you need speed and trickery to beat these quicker, sharper defenders. Look at Virgil Van Dijk and Raphael Varane, for example- these guys could have played on the wing 25 years ago with their sheer pace and technical quality. Lolley may feint one way, shimmy the other, but by the time he recollects the ball they’ll already be onto him. In the Championship, it’s slightly different. Richard Keogh is no Van Dijk, nor is Jack Hobbs Aymeric Laporte. To be perfectly honest, £10m for Lolley would be detrimental for Villa, Lolley himself, and Forest. Although £10m is still an awful lot of money in the Championship, Forest can’t afford to be losing their most lethal attacking weapon when, for large parts of the season, a chronic lack of creativity has proved our downfall. A short blog today- but an urgent one nevertheless. Please stay, Joe. For us and for yourself.