Costel Pantilimon's permanent move to Nottingham Forest is perfect
Remember Costel Pantilimon when he was signed by Manchester City in 2012? The gigantic shot-stopper became the tallest goalkeeper to play Premier League football. Time passes. He is still tall but has taken a step down. Pantilimon just signed with Championship side Nottingham Forest for an undisclosed fee.
Born in Bacau, Romania, the 6'8" keeper gained media attention due to his towering height. He and Lacina Traore share the record as tallest players to feature in England's top tier. Pantilimon's time with City didn't last long. After only seven appearances in three seasons, the first on loan from Politehnica Timisoara, he moved to Sunderland.
The Romanian spent two seasons with the Black Cats, narrowly missing relegation. He was then sold to Watford.
His first season with the Hornets didn't go to plan. He was overlooked for Heurelho Gomes. The 2016-17 campaign wasn't any better. He made two Premier League appearances. His future was not with Watford.
A loan spell out to Deportivo de la Coruna gave him a few more matches, but not enough to positively affect his mentality. He returned to England for a loan spell with Forest. On his home debut, Pantilimon saved a penalty against Hull City. The former Man City keeper also made the Championship Team of the Week against Burton in February, keeping Forest in a match as they struggled with 10 men.
Now comes a three-year deal that all but guarantees he will be number one for the 2018/19 campaign.
Pantilimon's discipline is a concern for Forest manager Aitor Karanka. He was booked in Forest's 5-2 win over Queen's Park Rangers and has a reputation for flying off the handle.
In 2016/17, the Tricky Trees escaped relegation on goal difference. This last campaign, they finished 17th. Pantilimon's efforts warmed fans to the Romanian. He'll be welcomed him with open arms for the new season.
Pantilimon believes the club is capable of pushing for promotion. It's a big task. Supporters know how difficult it will be, but hearing such ambition from a key player is assuring. Who wants to settle for a mid-table finish?
Nottingham Forest have five goalkeepers on the books; more than enough for any club. Karanka will be selling or loaning out one or two. He'll have to choose between Jordan Smith, Stephen Henderson, Bulgarian Dimitar Evtimov and Greek Stefanos Kapino. The quartet will be fighting through the summer to be chosen as Pantilimon's backup.
At 31-years-old, the well-travelled stick-man is hoping to get his career back on track and help a Championship club destined to rise. Last season was the Reds' 10th consecutive Championship campaign, and the first in which they improved over a prior season. They've floated to the bottom of the division like a feather on the breeze. From eighth place to 11th, to 16th and then 19th it hasn't been pretty over the past few years. Now, they hope to keep climbing.
Two Portuguese players have been brought in to compete for places in front of Pantilimon. Benfica's Joao Carvalho arrived for £13 million while Sporting CP's Tobias Figueiredo's fee was undisclosed. Algerian forward Hillal Sudani has also joined for an unknown amount. Hull City's Michael Dawson and QPR's Jack Robinson come to the City Ground on frees.
Costel Pantilimon's permanent move to Nottingham Forest promises to aid Aitor Karanka's project. He is targeting overwhelming success but much of that is out of his hands. The Romanian keeper has experience and ability but can only bar the door. He will have to rely on his teammates to go get the goals.