Joe Lolley has been billed as a Premier League-calibre player after signing a new contract at Nottingham Forest.

Martin O’Neill has said in the Nottingham Post that a man now tied to a deal through to 2023 is capable of playing at a higher level.

Few of those who have witnessed Lolley in action over the last 12 months would argue against that.

He was, of course, a top-flight performer before linking up with the Reds.

That step up had been taken with Huddersfield, but the Terriers deemed him surplus to requirements.

There was no chance of that being the case at the City Ground.

Lolley has represented remarkable value for money at just £500,000 – with few fees for such quality coming in at less than seven figures nowadays.

The fact that there has been talk of potential eight-figure bids around him tells you all you need to know about his current value.

And Forest are set to be the ones to benefit from that.

As announced on the club’s official website, Lolley has committed to a new four-and-a-half-year agreement.

Exciting

(Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

Understandably delighted at tying down a talismanic presence, O’Neill has said in the Nottingham Post: “I think he is a match-winner. Our job, here as a team, is to try to get him heavily involved in football matches – not to spend 20 minutes out of the game.

“Our task is to get him involved, because he is a match-winner. He might go past a couple of players and slip somebody through. He is the one who does that for us at the minute.”

Quizzed on whether Lolley is capable of climbing back up the League ladder, O’Neill added: “If you can go past players in this division, you can sometimes even get a little bit more room in the Premier League, to do that.

“I don’t mean to be disparaging to this league, far from it – because getting out of this division is a tough, tough task, no question. But I also have no doubt that Lolley could play higher.”

The effusive praise did not stop there either.

O’Neill went on to say of a man with eight goals and seven assists to his name this season: “He is a really exciting talent. He really is.

“He has signed, which is great. He is enjoying playing for this football club and that is important, but too important for us as well, to have him; to know that he wants to play; that he wants to improve.

“And I think that, if he does improve, he will improve us.”

That is now the challenge facing all of those involved in a very welcome extension.

Puzzle

 

Lolley is of Premier League quality, but are enough of those around him?

Forest are hoping to prove that they are.

That may not be in the current campaign, but there is the promise of more recruitment in the summer.

Find the right pieces and the puzzle will start to come together.

The undoubted potential of Arvin Appiah has been secured for the foreseeable future, and now the quality of Lolley in the present.

Gone are the days of the Reds moulding talent for the benefit of others.

The infuriating sales of the Al Hasawi era appear to be a thing of the past.

Evangelos Marinakis, O’Neill, Lolley and a fan base of thousands boast top tier ambition.

None would look out of place at that level and moves are being made to make dreams a reality.

Long may that continue.