Vlachodimos set to fulfil PL dream with Forest after shock Benfica exit

By the standard of the summer of 2022, Nottingham Forest had been notably restrained throughout the most recent transfer window.

After impressively keeping Forest in the Premier League while also integrating a remarkable 30 new signings last season, Steve Cooper oversaw the arrival of just three players before the start of the 2023/24 campaign.

But once the season started, Forest – led by Evangelos Marinakis, their enigmatic owner – couldn’t help themselves. The chequebook came back out.

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Three new signings arrived between the start of the season and Deadline Day – but Forest were far from finished.

The East Midlanders dominated the headlines in the final 24 hours of the window by bringing in seven players, with the £30m capture of Ibrahim Sangare from PSV the most eye-catching.

Once the dust had settled, Marinakis wrote an open letter to Forest supporters in which he proclaimed: “Our vision for the club is clear and unwavering. We are on a path to re-establish Nottingham Forest as a dominant force in English football.”

That flurry of activity – combined with the owner’s bullish claims – helped explain why the £7.7m signing of goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos from Benfica went under the radar.

But a closer inspection of the 29-year-old’s career suggests that, in a window where Chelsea paid £25m for Robert Sanchez and Arsenal agreed a £27m future fee for David Raya, Forest may have pulled off a coup.

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Up until the final weeks of the window, Vlachodimos’ status as a key member of Benfica’s first XI seemed secure.

The Greece international joined the Portuguese club from Panathinaikos in 2018 and immediately established himself as their No 1, going on to make 225 appearances and helping Benfica to the Portuguese title in 2019 and 2023.

Vlachodimos also played every minute of the Lisbon side’s run to the Champions League quarter-finals in the past two seasons, including wins over Barcelona, Ajax and Juventus.

The goalkeeper can also boast silverware at international level, having been part of the Germany squad that won the U21 Euros in 2017 before switching his allegiance to Greece.

Having signed a new Benfica contract in March, Vlachodimos seemed set to continue his progress at the Estadio da Luz.

But that progress came an abrupt halt after Benfica fell to a surprise 3-2 defeat at Boavista on the opening weekend of the season, with Roger Schmidt, the coach, publicly criticising his goalkeeper.

Vlachodimos – who had been beaten by a powerful close-range finish, a penalty and a one-on-one – challenged Schmidt over his comments, with the pair’s relationship quickly breaking down.

After just one game of the new season, Samuel Soares, a 21-year-old academy graduate, was installed as Schmidt’s No 1 – and Vlachodimos was looking for a new club.

Despite being linked with Manchester United, it was Forest that sealed the deal, with Marinakis – the Greek shipping magnate who also owns Olympiacos – swooping in to sign the Greece No 1, who is said to have long dreamed of making the move to the Premier League.

But whether Vlachodimos will be Forest’s No 1 remains to be seen. As with last season, when Cooper had both Keylor Navas and Dean Henderson to choose from at various points during the season, the manager has strength in depth between the sticks.


Matt Turner arrived from Arsenal last month and has started all four of their Premier League games this season, including keeping a clean sheet in the 1-0 win at Chelsea.

Across those four games, Turner has faced an expected goals on target (xGOT) total of 7.7 but only conceded six goals – meaning he has conceded 1.7 goals fewer than expected.

The combination of Turner’s form and Vlachodimos’ arrival mean Cooper has a decision to make over who to hand the gloves to for the resumption of the Premier League following the international break, starting against Burnley on Monday, live on Sky Sports.

But it’s a good headache for the manager to have as he looks to fulfil Marinakis’ wish to return Forest to the top of the tree.

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