Gibbs-White should be on England’s radar for upcoming Euro qualifiers
On the day Nottingham Forest secured their place in the Premier League for another season, Morgan Gibbs-White caught the eye more than any other player in red. He was the one who gave Arsenal the most to think about as Steve Cooper’s team claimed a 1-0 victory over the team that sat top of the table not so long ago.
This season was a challenging one for Forest. No fewer than 29 new signings arrived at the City Ground over the summer and January transfer windows with close to £200m spent. Cooper’s squad was strengthened, but the sheer number of arrivals made it difficult to settle on a clear approach and style of play.
At £30m, Gibbs-White cost more than any new signing. While the youngster’s potential was clear, many believed Nottingham Forest had overpaid for a player who had yet to showcase his ability at the top level. Now, though, Gibbs-White’s £30m price tag makes his signing look like a bargain. Forest have got value for money.
The numbers illustrate the impact Gibbs-White has made for Forest this season. The 23-year-old has created 11 goal creating actions, more than any other Nottingham Forest player by some distance. He has made 114 actions which have resulted in shots – the 15th highest tally of anyone in the Premier League.
Arsenal struggled to handle Gibbs-White’s directness and dribbling ability on Saturday. More than once, the 23-year-old weaved through the Gunners’ midfield and defence with ease. His feet were too quick for anyone to get near him. There is also a growing sense Gibbs-White will take another step forward next season as Forest continue to grow.
Gareth Southgate is surely keeping a close eye on the 23-year-old with Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia on the horizon for England. Gibbs-White has represented his country at various age groups and now appears ready to make the progression to the senior team. Fixtures against lower calibre opponents – like Malta and North Macedonia – could be the ideal landing spot for the young attacking midfielder.
This isn’t to say Gibbs-White should be immediately installed as a key figure for England. Southgate has moulded a core of players over a number of years and there’s no reason to break up that core when England have achieved relative success in recent times. But as a squad member, Gibbs-White can certainly contribute.
Gibbs-White would give Southgate another degree of tactical flexibility with the 23-year-old most comfortable in a central role behind a number nine. England don’t always play with a player in this position, but Gibbs-White could offer something different off the bench. His direct running would certainly be a threat. He could open up space in the final third.
Cooper is a former England U16 and U17 manager and so has a relationship with Southgate who could lean on the Forest boss for insight on what Gibbs-White is like as a character. Cooper has already played a pivotal role in the 23-year-old’s development. “I wish I had this relationship with every manager. The way he man-manages players is incredible,” said Gibbs-White.
In another reality, Gibbs-White might have been engulfed by the chaos at the City Ground this season. He could have been made to regret his transfer to Forest had they suffered an immediate return to the Championship. Instead, Gibbs-White is in the perfect place for his development, working under the perfect manager. Southgate could be another significant figure in his career.