Nottingham Forest rising star Brennan Johnson is wanted by a host of Premier League clubs

He was raised in West Bridgford, is the son of a club legend and scored his first goal for the club against bitter rivals Derby. Brennan Johnson is clearly Nottingham Forest through and through.

But such has been his rapid progress at the City Ground this season, the 20-year-old considered among English football’s brightest talents may soon be moving on.

Johnson has been linked with Everton, West Ham, Newcastle and Brentford in recent weeks, this clutch of Premier League clubs no doubt impressed by the youngster’s raw pace, crossing ability and chance creation.

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Delight for Brennan Johnson after he scored his first goal for Nottingham Forest – in the East Midlands derby against Derby earlier this season

The flying attacker has caught the eye this season and is wanted by Premier League suitors

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As Sportsmail reported on Tuesday, Brentford are willing to pay £15million for his services this month. But Forest don’t need a quick sale, are looking for at least £18m and also want a 15 per cent sell-on clause included in any deal.

Besides, Forest have top-flight ambitions of their own and are within touching distance of the Championship play-offs with 20 games yet to play.

You wouldn’t have predicted that in mid-September when Chris Hughton was sacked after a disastrous start of six defeats from their first seven league games.

But Steve Cooper came in and turned things around, with Johnson, who has five goals and four assists to his credit this season, a major beneficiary.

Johnson’s excellent performance in Forest’s 1-0 FA Cup win over Arsenal earlier this month carried his name to an audience beyond regular followers of the Championship.

Johnson has scored five goals in his first full season at Championship level with Forest

His form also earned Johnson a first taste of international action with Wales back in 2020

Even the notoriously hard-to-please Roy Keane, watching his old club from the ITV studio, was impressed.

‘He’s a talented kid. No doubt a lot of teams are looking at him and we’ll see if Forest can hold on to him,’ Keane said.

‘He’s got a bit of pace and he’s tricky. He’s got an assist in him and he’s really talented.’

Keane’s old Manchester United team-mate David Beckham could have told him that. Becks is good friends with Brennan’s Dad, the former Forest forward David Johnson, who also started his career in the United academy ranks.

David Beckham is a friend of Brennan’s father David and regularly sends good luck messages

Johnson made great progress during a season on loan with League One Lincoln last season

Beckham has often left comments on Brennan’s Instagram posts and follows his progress closely. 

Beckham posted this Instagram Stories message after Forest’s FA Cup win over Arsenal earlier this month

When Johnson scored his first professional goal while on loan at League One Lincoln City last season, Beckham said it would be the ‘first of many.’

That was an astute prediction. Johnson enjoyed a great year with the Imps, scoring 13 goals and setting up a further 14, and he returned to Forest a much more rounded footballer.

But it’s under Cooper, playing on either the left or right side of the attacking three in what is usually a 3-4-3 system, that Johnson has excelled at Championship level too.

His displays have made him a firm fan favourite as Forest’s support begin to genuinely believe they can return to the Premier League after a staggering 23 years away.

That he is the son of a player who scored 50 goals in 165 appearances for Forest between 2000 and 2006 before being forced into early retirement with back issues only deepens the appeal.

David Johnson posted this throwback picture of a Nottingham Forest kit launch with his son

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A post shared by David Johnson (@daj1976)

David Johnson often opens the family photo album on his Instagram account and there was a great pic of Brennan, then only three or four, helping to model a new Forest kit in 2004.

Johnson Jr was enrolled in the Forest academy at the age of eight, working his way through the academy ranks before making his professional debut at 18 in August 2019.

When then-manager Martin O’Neill promoted him to the first team squad ahead of the 2019-20 season, Brennan spoke of his father’s guidance.

‘He has always been a good influence, he is always giving me advice,’ he told the Nottingham Post.

‘He just tells me what I should be doing on and off the pitch. It has helped seeing that he can do it and hopefully I can go on and have a good career as well.

David Johnson with Brennan and Arvin Appiah (left) after an England youth game in 2017

‘It would mean a lot to come through the ranks and play for Forest because I have always lived in West Bridgford since I was young.

‘I was very young but I remember that he played for Forest – so I want to play for Forest as well.’

Now he’s living that dream, as well as playing internationally for Wales. Johnson has now played seven times for the country and allegiance is settled having played in World Cup qualifiers last year after he played initially at youth level for England.

Welshman Cooper has a good track record of bringing on young players – Marc Guehi and Conor Gallagher both had promising loan spells under Cooper at Swansea, not to mention his work with England’s under-17 side.

Steve Cooper celebrates after Nottingham Forest grabbed a late victory at Millwall recently

He has spoken of Johnson’s potential, saying earlier in the season: ‘I like the fact that Brennan can offer different types of attack. He can run in behind, he can play in between the lines, he can go one-versus-one.

‘He has to understand why he has done so well, so far, and continue to use the same process. I am not worried, because I see a boy who loves his training, loves playing and is interested in how he can improve.’

He added to his tally yesterday too, scoring Forest’s second goal in the 2-1 victory against Derby.  

It seems one way or another Johnson is destined to become a Premier League footballer. Everyone of a Forest persuasion would love it to be with them.

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