The typical consensus in football is that a good goalkeeper can be worth an extra 15-20 points per season. Nottingham Forest made one signing during the summer that looks to have seen them hit the jackpot in that department.
When Brice Samba signed for Forest for £1.9 million (Nottinghamshire Live) from Caen during the summer, it was met with derision from some supporters. Why on earth did the Reds need another stopper with Aro Muric, Costel Pantilimon and Jordan Smith already on the books?
With Kosovonian stopper Muric on loan from Manchester City, some of the less cynical supporters were presumptuous in predicting that Samba would act as back-up; ready to take on the gloves when the 20-year-old returned to the Citizens at the end of the season.
The Congolese goalkeeper wasn’t really in the mood for playing a watching brief, however. Solid performances in the Carabao Cup against Fleetwood and Derby showcased his talent and just four games into the Championship season, Muric found himself dropped from the side.
The man with five caps for his country had looked shaky in the games he had played. Suspect handling was evident in games against West Brom and Leeds; whilst he has never truly looked like having the total trust of his back four.
Samba has taken many Forest fans by surprise. Arriving from Ligue 1 for a relatively small fee, he has already looked like becoming one of the best pieces of transfer business done by the Reds in many years.
Goalkeepers naturally worry supporters. Before they’ve stood between those posts, there is always an air of intrigue from the stands. Will he command his box? Can he take balls out of the sky? What’s his distribution like? Will his socks sit below or above his knee? The check-list is endless!
Samba – socks just above his knee, for the record – is ticking all the boxes and some! Not since Lee Camp when he first signed in 2009, or Dorus de Vries during the 2015/16 campaign, have Forest had a stopper that possesses so much quality.
According to Who Scored, the 25-year-old has made 28 saves during his first seven appearances in English football and currently sits top of their rankings when it comes to Championship goalkeepers.
Samba has conceded five goals in seven games and produced point-saving stops in games against Barnsley, Blackburn and Brentford. He is quick along his line, superb at coming for aerial balls and his distribution puts Forest goalkeepers before him to shame.
The likeable Congolese star is quickly being fast-tracked to cult hero status and he is already well on his way to banking those extra 15-20 points that could be crucial in Forest’s bid for promotion.