‘I won’t close the door’ – Lens’ Brice Samba open to Premier League move

RC Lens goalkeeper Brice Samba (29) has said that he is open to the idea of returning to England. The Frenchman surprisingly departed Nottingham Forest following the club’s promotion to the Premier League. 

Samba played 133 times for Nottingham Forest and was pivotal in securing the club promotion back to the Premier League. However, having helped lead them there, he would not join them in the English top-flight. Instead, he left the club, choosing to return to France with Lens. 

“My teammates told me: You’re mad”

– Brice Samba

Speaking to L’ÉquipeSamba revealed that his decision to leave Nottingham Forest surprised his teammates. “My teammates told me: ‘You’re mad, you’re idolised in this city. You never have to pay when you go out for food, why would you leave?’ But it was a choice. I left France with the feeling of unfinished business. I wanted to prove things and I felt ready to come back to the country,” he said. 

His decision to return to La Hexagone has paid off. Samba has since played an integral role in leading Lens to the Champions League and now wears the captain’s armband. He has also worked his way into the France set-up, made his debut for Les Bleus, and asserted himself as Didier Deschamps No.2. 

‘I found myself as a man there’

– Brice Samba on playing in England

However, whilst Samba is happy with Les Sang et Or, who have bounced back after a difficult start to the Ligue 1 campaign, he has not ruled out a return to England. “Go back one day? Why not? Why not play in the Premier League if the opportunity arose? I won’t close the door,” said the former Olympique de Marseille and SM Caen shot-stopper, whose contract at Lens runs until 2028.

Samba attributes his growth, not only as a player but also as a person, to the time that he spent in England after joining Forest in 2019. “It is there that I found myself as a man. It is a really difficult league, that develops you a lot. There are 46 matches, plus the cups. I was a bit mad before going there and I made a step on a mental level. Playing every three days, the expectations set because all of the stadia are full and the owners make it be known that you have to get promoted,” he told L’Équipe.

He added, “All of that demands a lot of energy. As I tell my teammates, it’s better to play in the Championship than in the bottom half of Ligue 1. It teaches you a lot more. I would never change my choice (to go and play in the Championship). It was magnificent and made me change completely.”

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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