A new star on the horizon, Ben Brereton, a 17 year-old Nottingham Forrest player has been named Championship Apprentice of the Year with Arsenal said to be interested in a £10m deal for him.
1. Fast rise
After impressing for the club’s Under-23 side this season with 14 goals in 19 games, Brereton made his first team debut this January against Leeds, just 13 days after he was put on the bench for the first time in a game against Birmingham. Since his debut, the young striker has scored three goals and assisted another three in 13 appearances.
Academy manager Gary Brazil played a key role in bringing Brereton to Forrest after he was released by Stoke City two years ago. While commenting on his achievement Brazil said: “We’ve been really impressed by the boy, as a human being, to start with. We’re quietly surprised and pleased by what we’ve got out of him in 20 months.
“He’s adapted very, very quickly; he’s become very liked by his colleagues and his peers. Really, because he’s completely committed to the team.”
Soon after his first taste of senior football, Brereton has made it into England U-19 squad and recorded his first national cap against Spain last month. Becoming first team regular, an England U-19 international, and now winning the award for Championship Apprentice of the Year, many young players would get a big head, but from every report about Brereton, it really doesn’t seem to be the case.
“The vote wasn’t just based on the fact that he’s played first-team football, it was based on the fact that he’s doing well academically,” said ex-Forrest striker Jason Lee to BBC radio Nottingham, while explaining why Brereton won the award.
“All the players that were up for nominations also had to be producing in the classroom.
“To be able to combine the two at a young age is a big ask. Some players lose their focus. But Ben has produced on the field and he’s been able to be steady in the classroom as well.
“That’s why he got my vote.
“All the young players that were up for nomination have been able to combine the two and manage their life.”
2. Into the future
In just few months youngster has risen from a reserve player even some Nottingham Forrest fans didn’t know about to one of the brightest prospects of English football.
As speculation about his future continues to grow, with the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and, of course, Arsenal, showing interest, academy manager Gary Brazil said while discussing the award and teenager’s future,“It’s not about Ben Brereton, it’s never been about Ben Brereton and that’s what makes the boy so special.
“He’s now gone into first team football and he’s took to it very, very comfortably. Ben is very much a big team player and he commits to every area of his programme.
“The boy has a massive future going forward.”
If Nottingham Forrest manage to stay in Championship it is most likely that Brereton will remain at club as that is probably best for player to develop even more before stepping to Premier League.
But considering his potential, letting another year pass most likely means a higher price in the future.
At this point, the most obvious decision would be to sign youngster and loan him back so he could get more experience, as we all know how demanding Premier League can be and how it can affect a young player, with many examples of once shining prospects falling short under pressure.