‘What is the price of potential in football, after Ben Brereton’s move from Nottingham Forest to Blackurn Rovers?’

Ben Brereton
Ben Brereton

Nottingham Forest’s unassuming start to the season has been overshadowed by the departure of striker Ben Brereton. And it raises the age old question, what is the going rate for potential?

The Reds Championship rivals Blackburn Rovers have signed the 19-year-old striker on loan initially, as a prelude to a possible £7 million capture next January.

Without the ability to peer into the future or gaze into a crystal ball, there is no way of knowing how a player like Brereton, or any young footballer for that matter will progress. So, when a rival club comes knocking with such an offer, the justification to offload will always be greater than the gamble of perseverance.

So, let’s weigh up the pros and cons of Ben Brereton’s departure. The first thing that we need to remember is that the lad is still only 19-years-old.

At such a tender age it’s quite an achievement to have amassed over 50 Championship appearances thus far, but next comes the stat on which all strikers, regardless of age will be judged on, goals! And, he has just eight career goals to his professional name!

If you monitor Brereton’s scoring record since his move to the NFFC academy from Stoke City, it makes very impressive reading for sure. I remember watching him hit four goals for the Under 18s when he was just 15.

His progression through the various age groups provided further proof that he has the potential to score at any given level, but what is potential without fulfilment?

I interviewed Andy Reid over in Ireland this summer and gauged his thoughts on Keith Foy and why he never developed into the super star that his peers had tipped him to become.

Andy’s reply was brilliant, he said that potential is just potential at the end of the day, “there are varying reasons why players don’t fulfil their potential, people can speculate forever but you’ve got to make it happen”.

I think the best example of such speculation is Chelsea’s Ross Barclay, for almost a decade he’s had potential. He’ll soon be turning 25 and is still yet to light up the Premier League as he was expected to as a teenager at Everton. Chelsea splashed out £15m for Barclay at the turn of the year, and from what I hear, the Toffees supporters aren’t missing him.

For Nottingham Forest supporters, the Ben Brereton saga is nothing new. Two years ago, this very week, a 19-year-old Oliver Burke was shipped off to RB Leipzig for £13m.

The thought of that very deal still sends a shiver down my spine, especially given who sanctioned it and without a sell on clause in sight!

Burke amassed less than 30 professional appearances in a Forest shirt, but his impact on the team’s performances were immense. It was no surprise that the Reds struggled to win a game after his departure in 2016.

From a personal standpoint, I was livid about this whole episode because the young Scotsman was delivering the goods on a regular basis. Had the current owners and manager been in charge back then, Burke would still be at Nottingham Forest today.

It was very interesting to read Aitor Karanka’s comments regarding the loan and impending sale of Ben Brereton though.

I got the feeling that the Spaniard hasn’t been impressed by the 19-year-old during their time together, saying that he wouldn’t be sad to see him go.

When Brereton finalises the deal next January, it will remain a hot topic of debate for some time to come. I have no doubts that the youngster will hit prolific form at some point in his career, but where and when is anyone’s guess.

As with most things in life, you can only make decisions like this based on the facts that lay in front of you at that given time. In this case, it’s looks like £7m is the price of potential and nothing more.