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Moving Target

FPL new signings: Can Dean Henderson be the best £4.5m goalkeeper?

Championship play-off winners Nottingham Forest have stepped up their preparations for the new season by securing a deal to sign goalkeeper Dean Henderson (£4.5m) from Manchester United.

The 25-year-old arrives on loan for 2022/23, with no option to buy.

Henderson, of course, has Premier League experience with Man Utd and also Sheffield United in the 2019/20 season, but arrives with a point to prove after his career stagnated at Old Trafford.

The shot-stopper will now be hoping to establish himself at newly-promoted Forest, but should we be considering him for our Fantasy Premier League (FPL) teams?

THE FPL HISTORY

SeasonTeamAppearancesClean sheetsGoals concededFPL points
2021/22Manchester United0000
2020/21Manchester United1341244
2019/20Sheffield United (loan)361333160

It was quite the debut campaign in the Premier League for Dean Henderson, whose total of 160 points was the second-highest among goalkeepers in 2019/20, making him a shining light among the £4.5m bracket.

That overall score came from a total of 13 clean sheets, an impressive tally for a newly-promoted shot-stopper, as well as 16 bonus points and 97 saves.

Above: Henderson ranked joint-fourth among all goalkeepers for clean sheets in 2019/20, only behind Ederson, Nick Pope and Alisson


While the 16 from bonus was the third-best in the division, eight different ‘keepers produced more saves than Henderson. However, he did stop 75.8% of the shots he faced that season and recorded an xG prevented figure of +8.30, figures only Hugo Lloris could beat.

As a result, he was voted the Blades’ Young Player of the Year.

Since then, Henderson has been back with his parent club at Old Trafford, challenging David de Gea for a spot in the starting XI.

However, the 25-year-old has been limited to just 29 appearances in all competitions across the last two seasons, playing just four matches for United in 2021/22, none of which were in the Premier League.

Now, the hope for the goalkeeper will be that regular first-team football at the City Ground will aid his hopes of securing a spot in England’s squad for the 2022 World Cup.

THE FPL PROSPECTS

“Cooper has not turned Forest into a defensive side, but he has shaped them into one that defends well.” – Paul Taylor, The Athletic

With Brice Samba facing an uncertain future following a contract stalemate, Forest were keen to bring in a goalkeeper with top-flight experience. On that front, Dean Henderson certainly fits the bill, and the expectation is that he will immediately be installed as his team’s new number one.

Forest conceded 40 Championship goals last season and kept 17 clean sheets, stats which ranked second and joint-sixth best respectively.

However, it’s worth noting that when Steve Cooper arrived in September, they were in last place in the table, after which point there was a significant improvement. In fact, 16 of their 17 clean sheets for the season came in Cooper’s 38 matches in charge, a period which saw them concede just 28 goals.

Their defensive performances at the City Ground since the turn of the year also offers encouragement, with six clean sheets in 10 outings.


Cooper mainly preferred a 3-4-1-2 system last season, which allowed Forest to maintain a narrow, compact shape when out of possession. And it’s that formation that carries potential in the Premier League, as it works very well with their counter-attacking ability.

The issue is that key parts of that defensive set-up won’t be there next season, so recruitment has been key. For example, wing-backs Djed Spence and Max Lowe, plus defensive midfielder James Garner, thrived in 2021/22 but all three players were on loan and have since returned to their parent clubs. 

Over the last five seasons, the Championship play-off winners have finished outside of the relegation places on three occasions. Brentford, of course, finished 13th in 2021/22, and there seem obvious lessons that Forest can take from their approach.

Team (season promoted)Goals conceded in Championship promotion seasonClean sheets kept in Championship promotion seasonGoals conceded in following Premier League seasonClean sheets kept in following Premier League season
Brentford (2020/21)42175612
Fulham (2019/20)4817539
Aston Villa (2018/19)6112677
Fulham (2017/18)4615815
Huddersfield Town (2016/17)58125810

Clean sheets are, of course, also harder to come by, but good goalkeepers from promoted sides have provided value in recent seasons, like David Raya when available in 2021/22 and Henderson himself in 2019/20. Even Illan Meslier produced 154 points in 2020/21, despite Leeds United conceding 54 goals, thanks to a significant increase in save points.

Notably, Forest goalkeeper Samba was kept busy last term and his average of 31.5 minutes per save proved quicker than any promoted number one.

So, priced up at £4.5m by FPL, Henderson and Forest have the potential to be a powerful pairing next season, with a particularly nice run of fixtures from Gameweek 6-12.


There is even potential to put Henderson alongside, for example, Raya from Brentford and form a rotation pairing that hands FPL managers the following run.


All in all, it’s clear that Henderson can provide value for FPL managers next season, but you get the feeling Cooper’s transfer business over the summer will be vital in assessing the Forest defence.


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