Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest

Premier League • England

Gio Reyna: Inside USMNT star’s battle to reverse plummeting price tag during Nott’m Forest loan

Ryan Baldi
Gio Reyna in Nottingham Forest and USMNT matches

What does the future hold for Nottingham Forest loanee Gio Reyna?

Gio Reyna joined Nottingham Forest on loan in January intent on rejuvenating a once-promising career that had stalled at Borussia Dortmund.

But two months and just 82 minutes of Premier League football later, things aren’t going to plan for the 21-year-old American playmaker.

Reyna had options during the mid-season transfer window. Among those courting his services were Sevilla in LaLiga and Marseille in Ligue 1. That he decided to join Forest – a club marred in a relegation battle and embroiled in controversy relating to financial mismanagement – was a curious choice.

The biggest complicating factor in Reyna’s Forest prospects is that Nuno Espirito Santo’s side already contained, in Morgan Gibbs-White, a player of similar profile to the USMNT youngster. Forest paid a club-record £25 million – plus up to £17 million in conditional add-ons – to sign Gibbs-White from Wolves in 2022 and the 24-year-old was voted the club’s Player of the Year last season.

And despite Forest’s struggles, Gibbs-White has only further emphasised his status as the team’s best player this term, scoring four goals and providing seven assists in the Premier League.

It is little surprise, then, that Reyna has figured sparingly since his arrival. The role he is best suited to within Nuno’s 4-2-3-1 set-up is the central attacking-midfield spot, the No.10 position. That belongs to Gibbs-White and, barring injury, the former England under-21 star is unlikely to be displaced.

Gio Reyna and Morgan Gibbs-White stats

Reyna’s most impressive recent performances have come at international level. In his last six outings for Gregg Berhalter’s United States side, dating back to October last year, he has scored four goals and provided two assists.

During the most recent international break, Reyna helped the USMNT overcome Jamaica in the CONCACAF Nations League semi-final by providing two late assists for Coventry City’s Haji Wright to score. Then, in the final against Mexico, he found the net in a 2-0 victory.

The latter match is one that gives particular hope for a brighter end to the season for Reyna at Forest. With the USMNT lining up in the 4-3-3 formation, he operated in a slighter deeper starting position than his usual No.10 role, sharing the midfield creative duties with Juventus star Weston McKennie, who also scored.

READ MORE – Weston McKennie: The rebirth of the Juventus star, why Man Utd now want to sign him and the truths around his Leeds struggles

Adapting to a similar remit at Forest could be the key to Reyna’s chances of succeeding at the City Ground, allowing him to play alongside Gibbs-White – rather than the two competing for the same place – and offering a greater degree of creativity and control.

The blueprint has already been drawn up, too. In last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace, Reyna came off the bench with half an hour to play. The American midfielder quickly combined with Gibbs-White in the lead-up to Chris Wood’s headed equaliser.

“He had an impact on the game,” Nuno said post-match of Reyna’s cameo. “This is what we expected.

“He was able to control the possession. It was a good combination with Morgan before the goal. Today, it was Gio. Tuesday is going to be another one.

“This is what we expect from all of our players – if you play one minute, help us and have an impact on the game.”

But Reyna’s reward was scant – he was afforded only 13 minutes from the bench in the following Tuesday’s match to which Nuno referred, a 3-1 victory over Fulham.

Borussia Dortmund transfer plan backfiring

According to German publication BILD, Dortmund sent Reyna on loan to Forest with the hope that he’d shine for the Premier League strugglers and thus inflate his market value ahead of a summer sale. So far, that plan has backfired. His lack of an impact at the City Ground will only have caused his potential price tag to plummet.

With seven league games remaining, Reyna faces a crucial period in his young career. Forest are unlikely to want to make his loan move permanent at the end of the season and Dortmund will hardly be fending off big-money offers for the 21-year-old.

His contract with the Bundesliga club doesn’t expire until 2026, so his immediate future options appear limited. Another season of bench-warming could severely hamper his chances of figuring heavily in Berhalter’s plans for the World Cup on home soil in two years’ time.

It would be hyperbole to suggest Reyna has seven games to save his career – he’s still too young and too talented for that to be the case just yet. But along with Forest’s battle against the drop, there is more at stake for Reyna in the final weeks of the season than he’d bargained for.

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