What Sam Surridge would bring to Nashville SC

Earlier today, my colleague at Broadway Sports Media Valair Shabilla reported that Nashville SC have been pursuing 24-year-old English forward Sam Surridge. The Nottingham Forest striker makes a lot of sense for a Nashville side that has long chased an elite striker that can push the Boys in Gold over the top.

As this is the first concrete information regarding who Nashville SC may be targeting, I’m looking at how Surridge might fit into Nashville SC.

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Overview of Surridge’s career

Surridge, 24, has had a rollercoaster of a career thus far. He has yet to score double-digit goals in a season but has only played one season as a first-choice starter.

He broke through the youth ranks with A.F.C. Bournemouth. However, like most Premier League youngsters, he spent the bulk of his first few professional seasons on loan. 

The first two loan moves were to Weymouth and Poole Town, non-league sides on the seventh and sixth levels of the pyramid, respectively. Surridge next spent a pair of seasons on load in EFL League Two with Yeovil Town and Oldham Athletic. After returning from loan with Oldham, Surridge made his Premier League debut for Bournemouth in 2019 with a pair of substitute appearances. At 21, he was handed yet another loan move, this time to Swansea City in the Championship where he featured regularly as a substitute but struggled to find a consistent run of starts. 

After his parent club was relegated, Surridge spent the 2020-21 season with the Cherries as their bench striker scoring six goals across 1,353 minutes. It was enough to convince Stoke City to make Surridge their big purchase of the summer spending a reported £5.5 million on the young striker. However, Surridge’s time with Stoke was short-lived. After failing to settle in, he was permitted to move that January in a deadline deal to Nottingham Forest that sough Stoke settle for half of the original fee

Sam Surridge – All Touches (2022 EFL Championship Playoff Final)

Stepping in for the injured Lewis Grabban, Surridge proved pivotal in Forest’s promotion push scoring eight goals in 20 matches across all competitions. After the Red’s win in Wembley, Surridge was headed back to the top flight. While it was great news for the club, Forest’s massive roster overhaul sent Surridge back to the bench in 2022-23. He featured regularly in cup competitions but only made one start in Premier League play. With just a year remaining on his contract and no clear role moving forward, Forest permitted Surridge to find a move this offseason.

A natural finisher with room to grow

Sam Surridge’s playing style is defined by his predatory instincts inside the penalty area and his ability to find pockets of space to exploit defenses. 

One of Surridge’s notable strengths is his clinical finishing. He possesses a natural goal-scoring instinct and a surprising amount of technical ability. 

Additionally, Surridge exhibits impressive off-the-ball movement, making intelligent runs to create space for himself and his teammates. His mobility and work rate ensure that he remains a constant nuisance for defenders, constantly searching for gaps and exploiting them with his well-timed runs.

Standing at 6 feet 3 inches, he has the frame necessary to be the sort of aerially dominant, hold-up play specialist that Nashville needs. However, his game is still more akin to a skillful Ethan Zubak than it is to an industrious Teal Bunbury. His natural instinct is to run the channels more than post up with his back to the goal. 

However, that is not to suggest that he can’t provide hold-up play and be the striker that Gary Smith and Nashville need. He will play his part as a long-ball outlet, especially when the game state requires it. 

Just as importantly, Surridge appears to be a willing defensive presser. I am not sure that he possesses Bunbury’s instincts for popping up in passing lanes, however, Gary Smith isn’t going to yank him off the pitch for lack of effort. 

 At times, he has struggled with consistency, partly due to his lack of consistent minutes on the field during loan spells. This inconsistency can manifest in occasional dips in form or lapses in decision-making, hindering his overall impact on the game.

Overall, Surridge appears to thread the needle of providing enough of the necessary dirty work to help Hany Mukhtar shine while also having the quality to be a double-digit goal scorer if provided consistent playing time. 

How Surridge would affect the roster and budget

If it comes to fruition, Sam Surridge should become Nashville’s third and final Designated Player. With his arrival, the club and supporters alike will be hoping that he blossoms into the long-awaited answer to NSC’s striker riddle. 

By signing Surridge, Nashville would have largely filled out its roster. There may still be room for a couple of additional moves this summer. 

First, there appears to still be room in the budget for another TAM-level player whose budget charge falls between $651,250 and $1,651,250. Recently on Extratime, Tom Bogert threw out the idea that Nashville could be targeting both a DP and TAM-level striker. Pairing Surridge with another veteran forward would be the ultimate “win-now” move while Nashville’s title window is wide open.

Since the post-pandemic shift from three to five permitted substitutes, forwards are often one of the first positions subbed off. Bringing in fresh legs against tired defenders can be a recipe for success – just look at Jacob Shaffelburg’s season thus far. Adding another veteran forward to the mix would allow that player and Surridge to tag team the position ensuring that a starting-caliber #9 is always on the pitch for Gary Smith.

Second, Mike Jacobs still has an open U22 slot that has been left unfilled since the departure of Rodrigo Piñeiro. Notably, Nashville will have just one U22 slot available moving forward. By signing another senior Designated Player, the club will not open up the two other possible U22 slots had NSC signed a Young Designated Player. Mike Jacobs won’t mind. 

If Nashville signs Surridge, they will have elected to lean into a win-now roster while the title window remains open. It may be a decision that the club comes to regret with an aging core, but I cannot fault a club for pushing the chips all in to win silverware. 

As more information develops, Broadway Sports Media will continue to analyze any potential move for a highly anticipated DP striker.

Author: Chris IveyChris is a senior writer covering Nashville SC. His writings focus on the team at large and often navigate the complexity of roster building around the myriad of MLS rules. Outside of Broadway Sports Media, Chris resides in Knoxville and is a licensed attorney. Beyond NSC, he is always willing to discuss Tennessee football and basketball, Coventry City, and USMNT. Follow Chris on Twitter

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