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‘I’m excited to be here’: Ola Aina joins Awoniyi, Dennis at Forest

OLA Aina has become the the third Nigeria international at Nottingham Forest, linking up with Taiwo Awoniyi and Emmanuel Dennis.

The Super Eagles defender completed a free transfer to the Premier League club today from Torino in Italy and became Forest’s first signing of this summer.

“Nottingham Forest is delighted to announce the signing of defender Ola Aina,” the club announced on their official website today.

“The Nigeria international has put pen-to-paper on a one-year deal to become Forest’s first signing of the summer, with options for the future also agreed in the contract.”

Aina is returning to England after beginning his career at Chelsea and playing on loan at Fulham three years ago.

Forest paid glowing tribute to their new player, highlighting his attributes and profiling his career.

“An athletic and versatile defender, Aina joins Forest following his recent departure from Torino, having previously spent nearly five years with the Italian side and making 102 appearances in Serie A,” Forest added.

“Aina, who played for England at every age group from under-16 to under-20, has received 30 international caps for Nigeria since pledging allegiance to the Super Eagles in 2017.”

The defender, who can play in both full-back positions, was born in London to Nigerian parents, and joined the Chelsea academy at Under-11 level before progressing through the ranks at Stamford Bridge and winning two FA Youth Cups, two UEFA Youth League titles and a U-21 Premier League title as a youngster.

After making his professional debut for Chelsea in August 2016, Aina left Stamford Bridge for Italy in 2019, before making a return to the Premier League with a loan move to Fulham during the 2020/21 campaign.

The 26-year-old played 33 times for Fulham during a campaign which saw him be shortlisted for the Premier League Goal of the Season Award following a spectacular strike against West Bromwich Albion.

He had a five-year spell in Turin, where he made 113 appearances across all competitions.

“I’m very excited to be here and I can’t wait to get started. I wanted to be back on English soil again and Forest is a club which has an exciting project and team,” Aina told his new club’s website.

“The manager as well, what he wants from the team is something which I want to buy into. He’s told me it’s a family club, he’s told me we have a great bunch of players and he’s told me I’ll enjoy it here.”

“It’s exciting to be back playing in the Premier League. It’s the best league in the world and I always want to challenge myself.

“I know some of the boys well already which is good for me, but I’m excited to meet the rest of my teammates and get to know everyone.

“I saw Forest in action last season and the fans are as loud as can be throughout the whole game, which is something I’m relishing and can’t wait to experience. I can’t wait for it.”

Nottingham Forest manager, Steve Cooper, said: “We’re really pleased that Ola has joined us.

“He’s a versatile player who has good experience of the Premier League and Serie A. He’s a really good player, but a good athlete as well.

“He’ll definitely make the team stronger and we’re looking forward to working with him.”

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Naija Times