Nottingham Forest made plenty of changes to the first-team squad during the January transfer window, including the arrival of two new goalkeepers. Stefanos Kapino has not yet made an impact at the City Ground but Costel Pantilimon has been in good form since arriving from Watford on loan.
The Romanian took the place of youngster Jordan Smith between the sticks and has done a fine job since being given the number one jersey. In his 10 games for the club, he has kept four clean sheets and added some much-needed experience at the back.
It has certainly been a more successful loan spell than the one he had in the first half of the season. Not many people will even realise that Pantilimon was on loan at La Liga side Deportivo La Coruna for the first part of the 2017-18 campaign. He played just six times for the club, failing to usurp Ruben as number one or Przemys?aw Tyto? as the club’s number two.
One man who has been key to the upturn in his fortunes is Forest manager Aitor Karanka. That is, at least, the opinion of one of his scouts. Juan Jose Vila, a video analyst at Forest who has previously worked at Valencia, Spartak Moscow and Deportivo, was speaking to La Opinion A Coruna this week when he said of the Romanian:
“I met him here, he’s an exceptional kid. Perhaps in Dépor he did not have that confidence or that necessary adaptation and we gave it to him.
“Karanka has been vital to him. He has done extraordinary games. He has won us points. The team has seven games without losing and he is one of the great responsible for that streak. In fact, in the last three he has not even conceded.”
The interview was clearly done prior to the 2-0 defeat v Millwall on Good Friday but regardless it is clear Karanka has worked wonders on the towering keeper’s confidence.
After the rough time he had in Spain the Forest loanee could have easily struggled to find his best form with his new team. With Kapino also arriving and Smith at the club, the competition for places would have also added pressure on the Romanian.
But he has certainly done plenty to have Forest fans hoping for a permanent deal in the summer as they try to mount a promotion push next season.