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Nicolás Domínguez: The ambitious Argentine adapting to his new surroundings

Nicolás Domínguez celebrates first goal

Nicolás Domínguez has hit the ground running at Nottingham Forest. His willingness to run his socks off and work hard for his teammates has won over the fans, but adapting to a "new" role has brought the best out in the Argentine.

Nathan Joyes analyses Domínguez's initial months at the City Ground , who still has one eye on this summer's 2024 Copa America.

Nicolás Domínguez: Bedding in

After four years in Italy the opportunity to play in the Premier League was presented to Domínguez with Remo Freuler moving in the opposite direction.

Operating primarily as a six, the Argentine didn't arrive with a reputation which would see him offer attacking qualities in the final third - at least not from his time in Serie A.

Having come through Velez Sarsfield's academy, the Argentine club effectively let him off his leash in his final season with the club, where he scored five goals in 14 league appearances.

Finding pockets of space in and around the box was where Domínguez came alive, playing perfectly weighted through balls to his teammates, offering late runs into the box or striking the ball from the edge of the 18 yard box was a prominent part of his game.

Yet when moving to Europe, the Argentine operated a more disciplined role. Playing the central role often in a 4-3-3 formation, Domínguez's duty was to protect the defence, win the ball back and move the ball up the pitch.

There were glimpses of his attacking ability in the 2023/24 campaign, which saw him return three league goals - the most since arriving in Italy - and perhaps this side of his game is what attracted Forest to him.

A debut goal against Brentford, before his link up with fellow Argentine Gonzalo Montiel to score against Manchester United and Blackpool has seen Domínguez thrive in his new environment and already match last season's goal target - but what is his best role?

Domínguez's diversity

A lack of options due to key injuries and players representing their nations at AFCON hasn't made Nuno Santo's initial period in charge the easiest.

What it has done has allowed Domínguez to play in a more advanced role, predominately on the left-hand side in a 4-5-1 formation.

Whether this is a long term solution or strategy remains to be seen, but it is a role in which Forest clearly gets more out of their Argentine.

With the likes of Orel Mangala, Ibrahim Sangare and Ryan Yates operating in the holding midfield roles, it's currently a rather congested position to be fighting over.

Danilo, arguably involved in that battle, thrived in a more advanced role since his arrival in the Premier League, and his relationship and understanding with Domínguez has been a shining light in recent fixtures for Forest, who lacked a cutting edge under Steve Cooper in the first half of the season.

Last year it was the Brazilian who built a strong relationship with the likes of Morgan Gibbs-White and Brennan Johnson, but this term it has been Domínguez who has caught the eye in a similar role.

Calm and composed in possession, the 25-year-old has an eye for a pass, offers clever movement to time his runs into the box and a license to roam has seen him come alive - something Velez saw in his game and wanted Domínguez to progress up the pitch.

Although happy to play forward balls to those making runs in behind, Domínguez often spots clever central balls to those who have time to turn and offer another passage through - something plenty of designated wingers actively avoid.

Due to the nature of Forest's midfield, the Argentine's current role doesn't actively restrict him to a certain area of the pitch.

Having the fluidity to interchange, move centrally and pick up the ball across the midfield, it's almost the perfect part for him to play in this slightly new-look Forest attack.

Having someone who understands the role of a six, but possesses the qualities of an eight will see a player go far in the modern game and Domínguez falls firmly into that category.

Work rate and international ambition

Despite playing in a more advanced role in recent weeks, his willingness to work hard off the ball has impressed Forest fans.

Looking to position himself to win the ball back and get an attack moving, he also recognises when to stop an attack by sliding in or knocking the ball out of play.

His defensive duties improved tremendously during his stint in Italy, and was statistically one of the best in Europe when it came to recovering the ball.

He may be relaxed in possession, but he's a terrier out of it, and he's certainly not one to shy away from a tackle.

The Argentine is arguably playing with a point to prove - perhaps looking to squeeze his way back into Lionel Scaloni's plans with Copa America around the corner.

It won't be an easy task. Argentina are the best team in the world at present, but showing he's diverse across a number of roles will only strengthen his claim.

By continuing to put in performances in the Premier League as he has been doing, Domínguez may well be on the plane to the US alongside Montiel.

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