Sometimes in life, people look to the power of the Holy Spirit for a change in fortunes. And it looks as though Richie Laryea’s Nottingham Forest career could be resurrected under Nuno Espirito Santo.
You’d have been forgiven for assuming that Laryea’s career at the City Ground was likely all but over. Perhaps not, as the former Toronto FC man has been included in Nuno’s 25-man squad for the remainder of the English Premier League season.
At face value, it seems to suggest that Laryea could be turning out in red once again before too long, much to the disbelief of many TFC and CanMNT fans on social media.
How much the 29-year-old will be seriously considered for selection remains to be seen but it ostensibly presents a chance for the former BMO Field fan favourite to finally officially become an EPL player. Although he has been on the books at Forest for more than two years, Laryea’s last appearance for the East Midlands club was 20 months ago, on the final day of the promotion-winning 2021-22 EFL Championship season.
Since then, he’s played 29 times for TFC, won 20 more caps for CanMNT, played at a FIFA World Cup, and appeared 14 times for the Vancouver Whitecaps, all while the Reds have gone through three different head coaches in the BMO Field dugout. But it seems that Forest’s change of manager this winter could offer him a route back into the fold.
However it unfolds, it’s an intriguing development in what has been a wild few months for Laryea.
His exit from Toronto last summer stung TFC fans, even if it didn’t entirely surprise them. And it had sounded like the most likely outcome this winter was that he would stay at the Whitecaps after he joined them on loan on English football’s transfer deadline day late last summer and subsequently started every single one of their final 14 games of the season.
The Caps’ sporting director Axel Schuster had previously revealed that the west-coast club intended to sign Laryea permanently after running out of time to do so last summer, and Laryea himself said in the fall that his time in Vancouver has “been really good… I’ve enjoyed myself, and my family has enjoyed it, so this would definitely be a place that’d be good for us moving forward.”
But it gradually became clear that was unlikely to happen, with Schuster revealing in early January that MLS rule restrictions limited the salary they could offer Laryea and adding that “within the limits we have and the expectations Nottingham have, it will not be possible to make him an offer that is worthwhile for him to give up the contract he has there.” Laryea has 17 months left on his contract with Forest, until June 2025.
So, what’s next for the Torontonian?
While it would be a thrill to see him finally get that EPL debut, you’d forgive Canadian onlookers for being skeptical. Perhaps, given Forest’s well-documented financial troubles, they are looking to put the right-back in the proverbial ‘shop window’ ahead of selling him for as much as they can next summer? Frankly, they are unlikely to get much for a 29-year-old full-back with one year left on his deal, but it sounds like they’re pretty desperate to offload players to not run further afoul of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.
For what it’s worth, multiple reports this winter suggested that Laryea is currently keeping his options open and could head back overseas or return to MLS with another team.
So let’s watch this space, I guess.