Nottingham Forest has added Premier League experience to a youthful squad by signing Man United goalkeeper Dean Henderson on a season-long loan deal. This move comes in the wake of the club’s decision to send US international Ethan Horvarth to Championship club Luton on loan, and former #1 GK Brice Samba’s decision to decline a new contract. Forest will hope Henderson can replicate the kind of form that helped Sheffield United to a top-ten finish on their return to the Premier League when Henderson was on loan to that club.
Forest gaffer Steve Cooper was seemingly ecstatic at the club’s ability to secure such a high-profile goalkeeper:
“Dean is a top-class goalkeeper and he’s hungry for more opportunities to play and to continue to prove himself at the highest level,” said Forest Head Coach Steve Cooper. “He’s played multiple times in the Premier League but has also experienced the Champions League and international football. Again, Dean is someone who has attracted a lot of interest from other clubs and we’re delighted that he has chosen Nottingham Forest for our return to the Premier League.”
Dean Bradley Henderson was born on the 12th of March 1997, making him 25 years old. He was born as the second son and child to his parents in the town of Whitehaven, United Kingdom. Like most people in Whitehaven, Henderson’s parents worked, lived average lives, and never struggled for money. He spent his childhood growing up alongside siblings Calum and Kyle.
Henderson began his primary education in Whitehaven and fell in love with sports at an early age. However, his first sports love was cricket, not football. As a cricketer, Henderson was a good batsman and wicket-keeper. When he desired to get more involved in sporting activities, he took up football. After a while, his love for football grew, leading him to dump cricket and focus on football. Like many other goalkeepers, Dean Henderson started as an outfield player before switching.
On observing his growing love for football, Henderson’s parents, who were Man United fans, initiated him into supporting the Red Devils. As a kid, he often wore Man United jerseys on a daily basis. At the tender age of eight, Henderson was invited to a trial by Carlisle United. He passed the test with flying colors and his parents were in support as the club was the closest (approximately 55 minutes) to their family home.
After training with Carlisle United academy for six years, Henderson had a trial at Man United, which he once again passed to the joy of his parents. Their joy knew no bounds as their son had finally joined the family’s club. Even the thought of having to travel 135 miles further did nothing to limit the happiness. Henderson quickly settled into life at Manchester United and he was among the nominees for the 2015-16 Jimmy Murphy young player of the year award. The award was eventually won by Axel Tuanzebe.
A young Henderson signed his first professional contract with Man United in 2015, joining the likes of David De Gea, Sam Johnstone, Joel Pereira, and Victor Valdes as first-team goalkeeper options. Inexperience and stiff competition for places meant he was shipped out on loan, which has become the story of Henderson’s career. The Englishman grew and gained a lot of experience as he journeyed through the likes of Grimsby, Stockport, and Shrewsbury Town. He didn’t however gain much attention or hype until his loan spell at Sheffield United in 2018.
While playing under Chris Wilder at Sheffield, Henderson was one of the standout players in the club’s promotion to the Premier League. Henderson was so impressive that he won the club’s Young Player of the Year award plus the Championship Golden Glove. The goalkeeper showed he was no one-season fluke by proving to be among the Premier league’s best goal-minders in the following season when he renewed his loan to Sheffield. Henderson helped the newly-promoted side to a remarkable ninth-place finish. Man United then declined to release Henderson on loan to the Blades for the following campaign, and Sheffield was relegated.
How Will Henderson Fit in At Nottingham Forest?
Over the years, Henderson has proven to be a reliable shot-stopper whose talents have helped his teams earn valuable points. To understand Henderson’s strengths and weaknesses, focusing on his two-year stay at Sheffield would be best as he enjoyed a lot of playing time and stability. He proved pivotal in the Blades fight for promotion as his outstanding performances led to seven clean sheets in the club’s final seven games to earn them automatic qualification to the Premier League. On Sheffield’s return to the Premier League, Henderson ranked 4th among goalkeepers for save percentage at 76.85%, way above his expected percentage.
Another positive for Henderson (and potential FPL owners) is his impressive penalty saves record. Henderson has faced 20 penalties since 2015, and he has been beaten only nine times. His penalty save percentage of 55% dwarfs the standard of 25%.
While a lot is said about Henderson’s shot-stopping abilities, he has also proven to be a reliable commander of his box. One of the most vital aspects of goalkeeping is the willingness of the keeper to come off his line to claim crosses. Henderson was among the Premier league-best goalkeepers for claiming crosses, boasting 7.5%, a stat better than De Gea’s 4.9%. However, he needs to hone his decision-making here, as he often tends to punch the ball when catching it would be the better choice.
Despite his impressive talents, Henderson has some shortcomings that he needs to work on. Mental strength and focus are important characteristics of goalkeepers as they sometimes have long stretches during matches where they are hardly involved in the play. Henderson’s ability to maintain focus for long stretches when he isn’t involved has been called into question a number of times.
Another of Henderson’s weaknesses is his ability to play the sweeper-keeper role, which has become so popular in modern football. We have seen goalkeepers like Manuel Neuer and Ederson Moraes master this art by being aware of their surroundings and knowing when to take a step forward or backward. When statistics of his one-year Premier League season with Sheffield are placed alongside other goalkeepers in the same season, Henderson’s 0.48 defensive action fell directly on the median. Statistics show that he stays close to his penalty area but needs to be quicker off his line to clear long through balls.
He also ranked first in average pass-length at 49.5m but came in second to last in pass-accuracy with 72.03%. This can, however, be attributed to the fact that he was tasked more with clearing the ball upfield at Sheffield rather than building play out of the back.
If Henderson can provide anything close to the performances he produced for Sheffield in 2019, he’s going to be popular among FPL managers. He joins a newly promoted Nottingham Forest side that conceded 40 goals in 46 championship games last season. Under manager Steve Cooper, the Foresters play a back three, which gives wing-backs freedom to bomb forward and also provide sufficient cover for the goalkeeper.
Brice Bamba was the club’s number one shot-stopper last season, and he was arguably the best goalkeeper in the Championship with a tremendous 80% save rate. Samba also garnered 14 clean sheets in his 40 appearances for Forest last season. Samba’s departure to Lens and the decision to loan second choice Ethan Horvarth means there could be another goalkeeper joining the club alongside Henderson before the end of the transfer window. But given that the club needs to stretch its budget to strengthen all areas of the pitch, it is likely that any new GK that Cooper recruits to Forest would come in as a deputy for the EPL-proven Henderson. Hendo should be the undisputed #1 come August.
Priced at £4.5m, Henderson could be a risk worth taking given Nottingham Forest’s compact defense (now enhanced by the purchases of Moussa Niakhaté and Giulian Biancone) and Henderson’s solid track record in the EPL. He is expected to face a lot of action, meaning there might be save points on offer even when Forest doesn’t keep clean sheets. He could work either as a stand-alone option along with a £4.0M backup, or as part of a rotation with another inexpensive starter.
Stats, quotes and info for this article were sourced from fantasypremierleague.com, breakingthelines.com, brotherlygame.com, nottinghamforest.co.uk, fbref.com, foottheball.com, utddistrict.co.uk, manunitedanalysis.com, themastermindsite.com.
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