Ryan Yates earns new long term deal at Nottingham Forest after sparkling form


Nottingham Forest welcome the news that improving midfielder Ryan Yates has agreed to a new three-year deal that will keep him at the club until 2025.

Academy graduate Yates has been with the club since an early age and is now blossoming into one of the Championship’s most promising midfield talents following an upsurge in his form under Steve Cooper, who took the helm at The City Ground in late September 2021.

The 24-year-old midfielder has added greater consistency to his game this season, winning over sections of the fan base as he steadily got to grips with life in the Championship.

Yates, who was handed his first league start under Martin O’Neill in February 2019 in the 2-1 win against Brentford, has been a favourite under the ever-changing Forest stewardship following Aitor Karanka’s departure.

Sent out on loan initially under Mark Warburton at Barrow and Shrewsbury Town, Yates started to grab attention at Notts County during a four-month loan deal in 2017. Then move that saw him earn excellent reviews from the Meadow Lane faithful, scoring six goals and adding three assists.

Yates was the rumoured cause for a fallout across the banks of the River Trent, with then Magpies chairman Alan Hardy unhappy that the Reds decided to recall their young midfielder and immediately loan him out to Scunthorpe United, who were challenging for promotion, in the division above.

Lincoln-born Yates once more impressed at Scunthorpe United as they made a charge into the League One playoffs. The Forest midfielder again drew plaudits for his energetic and combative displays in the centre of the park.

With an eye for a pass, Yates certainly looked head and shoulders above his peers in the division. During that summer, Sabri Lamouchi kept Yates at the club alongside other academy graduates, Joe Worrall and Brennan Johnson, to give them an opportunity of experiencing first-team action.

However, it’s not been all plain sailing for Yates, with sections of the fanbase questioning what he was bringing to the side whilst he continued to be selected under proven managers such as O’Neill, Lamouchi and Chris Hughton.

Whilst Yates has always been a committed individual; Steve Cooper has brought about a new confidence in his player. Instilling belief, he can adapt to Championship football; the midfielder is playing with the same swagger that he showed at Meadow Lane and Glanford Park.

“Ryan Yates is has playing an essential part in this Forest squad. He’s been solid in the midfield and formed a great partnership with Garner, and has been getting more goals for himself, which has helped the Reds so much in recent weeks.

“He’s definitely been one of the best central midfielders in the Championship season. He could play a huge part in the future of this football club.” – Ross Jones – Nottingham Forest Supporter

There is no greater confidence booster than hitting the back of the net, which has been the most significant improvement in Yates’ game this season. Whilst he got into several goal scoring positions in the previous campaign, Yates lacked composure and technique in crucial moments.

Compared to last season’s statistics, Sofascore.com confirms his improvements, with his goal conversion rate increasing from 4% to 16%. With his passing accuracy up 72% in the opposition half, there is little doubt why he has won sections of the Forest fan base over.

Whilst the more competitive element to his game has never been doubted, Yates has also shown improvement in all duels, up to 62% from last season and a significant 6% jump in aerial battles.

Despite scoring an own goal in Forest’s 2-0 Boxing Day defeat at Middlesbrough, having lost concentration with a careless backpass, the midfielder has simply not looked back from that moment and shown the character to push on from that blip.

Continued hard work on the training ground appears to be paying dividends as Yates’ scored his sixth goal of the season in the weekend 4-0 drubbing of Reading at The City Ground.

His latest in front of the Trent End has been in a glut of goals Forest’s number 22 has bagged in recent weeks. Yates’ desire to keep going until the end was rewarded with two injury-time goals at home to Stoke City (2-2 draw earnt with ten men) and in the televised fixture at Sheffield United.

He scored a superb headed goal to claim a point for Forest against their promotion rivals in the 1-1 Friday night draw at Bramall Lane.

Yates grabbed Forest’s winner, again in front of the television cameras in last week’s 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town to secure them a prestigious home quarter-final tie against Liverpool. Not only did Yates score in an impressive header from James Garner’s delivery into the box, but the midfielder also played a pivotal role in Forest’s equalizer on the night.

Yates breaking through the lines from midfield when the Reds were trailing was the subject of a last-minute challenge from the Terriers backline before Sam Surridge emphatically swept home, picking up on the loose ball.

Yates received the man of the match award, and it was notably his most confident and comprehensive performance in a Forest shirt. Complimenting the uglier side of the fame, Yates showed that he could also turn provider with some instrumental second-half passes that should have brought about goals for Brennan Johnson and Djed Spence.

On Saturday, against Reading, Forest’s first-half performance fell below current standards, having scored after just 17 seconds through Kienan Davis. Steve Cooper’s halftime team brought about an instant improvement as the Reds went through the gears in a convincing second-half showing, scoring three more goals to complete a comfortable four nil victory.

Fast approaching the business end of the season, and with the midfielder coming into his own as a top-half Championship competitor, his long term connection to the club will also play a part as Forest hope to break into the top six.

Having captained the side previously through injuries, Yates is a player that will sweat blood and tears for the cause. With the blow that Steve Cook will miss the next six weeks through injury, Yates’ influence will be most welcome, not to mention his ability to slot into Forest’s backline.

Witnessed against Swansea in a comfortable 4-1 away win and also at home to Hull City, Yates has shown Cooper that he can act as a ball-playing centre half when called upon. Preferred over the more experienced and robust Tobias Figueredo, Yates offers additional options that can be tweaked in-game, as showed against The Tigers and the win over rivals Derby County at home.

Yates’ influence off the field is another bonus, with Cooper recently describing him as a ‘diamond’ to work with to local press Nottinghamshire Live, in the manner in which he conducts himself as a professional.

“I can’t speak highly enough of him. He’s just an absolute diamond of a lad. He’ll do anything for the football club and anything for the team.

“He’s one of the most selfless players I’ve ever worked with.

“I’m not surprised he’s got on the end of that one because he will do anything for this football club.

“I think we’re starting to appreciate what he brings now, which is great.”

Roy Keane, who was O’Neill’s assistant during his time at Forest, attended the Forest Arsenal game as a pundit in their shock FA Cup third-round win and took time to personally congratulate Yates on his performance as the players left the field. The midfielder’s expertly flighted cross was tucked home by Lewis Grabban as Forest sealed a 1-0 win.

Keane, of course, needs no introduction about his views on the modern-day footballer and to be also be singled out for praise during the punditry speaks volumes about Yates’s attitude and approach to his trade daily.

He certainly appears to be enjoying every moment of Forest’s rise up the table and has even found himself subject to a supporter’s chant, which brought about a delighted smile when he appeared as a second-half substitute in the two-nil win over Bristol City.

With Liverpool coming to the City Ground, fellow promotion rivals QPR are up first, and Yates is certainly not one to rest on his laurels with the games coming thick and fast. The midfielder will have dreamt of these occasions for years coming through Gary Brazil’s academy system. He is another in the long line of graduates who have progressed to the first team.

Whether promotion is achieved this season, Forest have secured a player’s longer-term future that will guarantee no lack of fight in the challenges ahead. This of course, could be just the springboard for Yates to progress further.

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