Anthony Elanga has completed his £15m move from Manchester United to Nottingham Forest and will now be joining up with his new teammates in the coming days. The Swedish winger has penned a five-year deal with Forest and joins Steve Cooper's side with pedigree having come through Manchester United's famous academy.
Elanga first broke into the first team at Old Trafford at the end of the 2020/21 season and became a regular in the team during Ralf Rangnick's brief tenure as Caretaker Manager during the second half of the 21/22 season. His most famous night in a red shirt came in Madrid during a Champions League round of 16 games where the winger netted United's equaliser against Atletico Madrid at the Civitas Metropolitan Stadium.
Although he fell out of favour under Erik Ten Hag, Elanga always looked bright when he appeared for Man Utd regardless of where he was utlised. Heading to Forest, he will be excited about the prospect of being one of the club's most important players, but where exactly will he play for Steve Cooper? Let's take a look at the options.
Where will Elanga play for Nottingham Forest?
As a winger
One of Elanga's best attributes is his ability to play on both wings. At Manchester United, he played on both the left and right in equal measure and he didn't look significantly worse or better either way. On the left, he has the ability to drive inwardly towards the box onto his favoured right foot while on the left, he utilises his blistering pace more to go on the outside of his opposing full-back before delivering a cross into the box.
Last season, Forest played a narrow offensive formation with five at the back which meant their width came from their wing-backs. The signing of Elanga could signal a change of formation ahead of the new season and as the best winger at the club, Elanga will more than likely get to decide whether he plays from the left or the right.
Other out-and-out wingers at the club include Josh Bowler and Alex Mighten, while Brennan Johnson and Morgan Gibbs-White can also play out-wide if needs be. With that being the case, Cooper may well be in the market for another winger to play on the opposite flank to Elanga.
As a striker
As mentioned, Nottingham Forest played the majority of last season with five defenders. From there, Cooper fluctuated between a 5-2-2-1 and a 5-3-2. While Elanga perhaps isn't the man to play as the lone striker in a 5-2-2-1, he absolutely could play as a second striker in a 5-3-2, particularly if he is partnered with Taiwo Awoniyi.
Elanga has pace to burn and would do well next to a big man like Awoniyi, or Chris Wood who recently made his move to the club permanent. Elanga played a couple of games up front for Manchester United last season due to the club's lack of options up front and did okay, and with a bit more experience up there he could be moulded into a good option at the top of the pitch for Steve Cooper.
It's not only his pace that makes Elanga a legitimate option up top, but his finishing ability is also good. The Swede is cool in front of goal, particularly in one-on-one situations and should get his fair share next season.
Behind the striker
The third option, and perhaps the most likely, is for Elanga to play behind a central striker. Cooper seemed to settle on a 5-2-2-1 towards the back end of last season and Elanga could, in theory, fit like a glove as one of the two behind the central striker.
Although Morgan Gibbs-White is a shoo-in as one of the two, the second position is well and truly up for grabs. Brennan Johnson fell out of favour at the back end of last season while Jesse Lingard has departed the club after just one season at the City Ground. Elanga would do well alongside Gibbs-White and the pair would work nicely in tandem behind Awoniyi.
Another option would be to play both Johnson and Elanga together with Gibbs-White in a more fluid front three. They are arguably Forest's three best ball-players and would provide Cooper with some much-needed quality at the top of the pitch.