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One of Nottingham Forest’s last-minute deals was to bring giant goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon to the City Ground and it’s a move that has divided a few opinions around the city. The Romanian international stopper has joined on loan from Watford for the remainder of this season, having been recalled by the Hornets from the temporary spell at Deportivo La Coruna in Spain.
The goalkeeper, who is 6ft 8in tall, started his career back in his homeland with Poli Timisoara, where he made 115 appearances before joining Manchester City back in the summer of 2011. That was initially a loan deal before being made permanent.
Having only played seven times for Man City, Pantilimon moved to Sunderland in 2014, eventually making his Premier League debut in November of that year, having managed to usurp custodian Vito Mannone.
Pantilimon went on to play 45 times for the Wearsiders before moving on to Watford two years ago, ironically playing his first game for the club against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. In recent times though, Pantilimon has been used only as a second choice behind Heurelho Gomes for the Premier League side and so he decided to make the move first to Deportivo and now to Forest.
For me, I can’t conclusively say that he has done enough in England to warrant a starting place in a side like Nottingham Forest, ahead of a player like Jordan Smith who has played all of their Championship games in goal this term.
Given Pantilimon’s situation, I can only assume that Aitor Karanka has assured him that he will come in as the first choice until the end of the season, which may do more harm than good to the club. It would be fair to say that Forest perhaps needed another goalkeeper, but bringing one in to play ahead of a player who is still progressing and could go on to hold the jersey for a decade is disappointing.
Naturally, we aren’t all privy to training sessions and to what is said and done around the club when the doors are closed, but I’m still surprised that Forest have looked to essentially replace Smith in goal at this point.
In La Liga, Pantilimon’s six appearances for Deportivo have earned him a rating of 6.60 on whoscored.com while Smith, at a lower level it has to be said, has been going at 6.51. However, we need to think of the future here, which could be slightly stunted now.