At the start of the 2016-17 season, hope was high at the City Ground that Nottingham Forest could string together an impressive campaign. But once again it was a struggle for the side, who ended up changing managers halfway through the season and surviving relegation to League One on the final day of the season. For many, one of the key reasons for their demise was the sale of Scottish attacker Oliver Burke.
He had started the season with a bang, scoring four goals in the opening seven games of the season. Unfortunately for Forest, that gained the attention of foreign threats. German big spenders RB Leipzig decided they wanted to bring Burke to the Bundesliga. According to the Daily Mail, the Scottish talent set Leipzig back £13 million that August, leaving the club just one day after netting a brace in a 4-3 win over Burton Albion.
It was clearly a move Burke had to make. Forest were lacking direction under Fawaz Al Hasawi and the chance to play in the Bundesliga was too good to turn down.
But the move now looks to have been a bad one as next season Burke will be playing against his former club in the Championship.
After one season and just five starts in the German top-flight, he and Leipzig decided a move away was for the best. West Brom decided to take a chance on the player, spending a fee reported by the Mirror to be £15 million for the pleasure.
It has not been a glorious return to English football for the Scotland international. Burke has managed to start just two Premier League games for the Baggies this season. He has spent most of his time on the bench and has yet to find the net for his new team. In fact, his only goal for the club came playing for their under-21s in the EFL Trophy in November.
To compound a difficult two years since leaving Forest this season also saw Burke relegated. West Brom’s difficult campaign ended up with the Baggies dropping to the Championship for next season. Burke will now have to face off against the team he left two years ago with dreams of better things.
But the upside is also clear. Hopefully, a drop back to the Championship can offer Burke the chance to rediscover his best form on a regular basis. A player once dubbed ‘Scotland’s Gareth Bale’ must ensure he does not waste his obvious talents in the years to come. Whilst Forest fans will hope he does not punish them at all in 2018-19, not many would begrudge him some future success in the game.