Wales manager Robert Page says Leeds United target Brennan Johnson could now play for one of the Premier League’s top six teams and clubs who wanted him in January have missed out. Los Blancos have been linked with a move for the Nottingham Forest striker, who heads to Sunday’s Sky Bet Championship play-off final against Huddersfield following a breakthrough season for club and country.
Johnson has scored 19 goals this season and was named the Championship Young Player of the Season at the EFL awards last month. The 21-year-old was the subject of an £18million offer from Brentford in January but opted to stay at the hometown club for which his father David played between 2001 and 2006.
Page said: “Brennan is the future of Welsh football and I think he’s in the top six (Premier League) now. He’s shown he has that potential and that ability. I saw it in him. for a long time and it was great to watch his development. I think the teams that were interested in him in January have lost now.”
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Johnson has scored 14 of his 19 goals since the new year as Forest’s rise under Steve Cooper has accelerated. He was on target in both legs of the semi-final victory over Sheffield United, and Page reserved particular praise for his father-agent in his progress.
He said: “We all know his dad and his management has also been excellent. There was a lot of hype about him in January and it didn’t faze him at all. He didn’t crumble under that pressure. He’s appreciated and he’s taken it to another level again.
“He could have chased the money and quadrupled his salary, if not more. But it’s not about that for him, and it’s so refreshing to see young guys wanting to play and win trophies. Everything else is s will take care of itself, the money, nice houses and nice cars will come.
“He was confident in his abilities, wanted to stay at the club that showed him love and matched the way he played. His development took off and he will succeed – and we will benefit from that too.”
Wales begin their Nations League campaign against Poland in Wroclaw on June 1, four days before they face Scotland or Ukraine in Cardiff. Skipper Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen are among those set to be dismissed for the Poland clash.
Page said: “I’m going to use these Nations League games as a tool to give the Brennan Johnsons of the world an opportunity, expose them to the best players and the best teams. The Nations League is not the alpha and the omega . It’s about exposing young players to such opposition. So in 12 months, or in two years, when we’re in an important game for the World Cup or the Euros, these players will have benefited from this experience and may be the one to score the winner to get us through.”