Reyna’s spell with Forest has been a failure. What’s next?

Giovanni Reyna‘s plan seemed solid enough. Leave Borussia Dortmund for a fresh start and head to Premier League side Nottingham Forest on loan. There, he figured to get more playing time, which would help him hit his sharpest form heading into this summer’s Copa America with the U.S. men’s national team.

Turn in some impressive performances with Forest and he could land the big-money move he’d been dreaming about. It couldn’t be any worse than staying at Dortmund, where he logged just 302 minutes across 13 league and cup matches … right?

Nope. It’s fair to say that Reyna’s spell with Forest has been a failure, with 230 minutes played in just nine Premier League matches — only two of them starts — since his move four months ago.

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As a result, Reyna has gleaned none of the expected benefits of his move. Instead, he entered an unfamiliar league and joined a new team that couldn’t invest time in a new loanee as its battle to avoid relegation took priority. Instead of giving Reyna reps, Forest’s more veteran attackers such as Morgan Gibbs-White, Anthony Elanga and Callum Hudson-Odoi have gotten the nod.

As understandable as that approach was for the club, it has been disappointing and frustrating for Reyna.

“He has been training well and is a lovely kid, but the team was in a tough cycle, fighting against relegation and the manager has prioritized playing players with Premier League experience already,” a source close to the club told ESPN.

With one game left in Forest’s season, their place in the Premier League is all but confirmed for next year: they will narrowly escape relegation as long as they don’t lose by a massive margin this weekend. The future of Reyna, however, looks far less certain. Jeff Carlisle, Julien Laurens and Constantin Eckner unpack how he ended up at this crossroads heading into a pivotal summer for him and the U.S. men’s national team.

Both Dortmund and Reyna’s former agency, Wasserman Media Group, were not initially in favor of sending Reyna to England, but Reyna’s father, former U.S. international Claudio Reyna, was a strong advocate of the deal, according to a source close to Forest.

There was some logic underpinning the choice. Forest’s manager, Nuno Espirito Santo, was thought to be an ally in the move. The manager and Gio Reyna share the same agent, Jorge Mendes, and one of the reasons the player picked Forest ahead of interest from Marseille, Sevilla or Wolves was because of Nuno’s presence at the club.

Unfortunately, it never clicked. Reyna’s best performance was in April against Wolves, where he started, played 71 minutes and notched an assist — the only goal contribution he has made at Forest. He didn’t come on at all in the vital May 4 game against fellow relegation candidate Sheffield United, a 3-1 win that helped secure their place in the English topflight.

With no permanent option available, Nottingham Forest are not looking at trying to keep Reyna for next season, neither through a new loan nor through a transfer, the same source told ESPN.

Now Reyna finds himself stuck, likely heading back to Dortmund, where he may have to jostle again for first-team minutes over some of the same players who were preferred over him when he was last there during the first half of the season.

BVB have been strictly monitoring Reyna’s stint at Forest and are well aware that the loan deal has not worked out to anyone’s satisfaction. In advance of the agreement with Forest, Dortmund extended Reyna’s contract until 2026 because the Bundesliga club wanted to keep all their options open. However, Dortmund have yet to decide what to do with Reyna upon his return.

The U.S. playmaker’s immediate future depends on whether other midfielders and wingers — most importantly Donyell Malen and Jadon Sancho — stay on at the club.

Malen, who at times has been Dortmund’s outstanding attacking player over the past two seasons, has long been linked with a move to England. Meanwhile, Sancho has only been on loan from Manchester United and Dortmund would need to pay a substantial fee in order to retain the English winger with a permanent move back to the club that launched his career. A boost perhaps for Reyna’s chances is Marco Reus‘s recent announcement that he will leave the club at the end of this season.

However, Dortmund’s concerns with Reyna go deeper than just the competition. The club’s higher-ups have regularly been frustrated with his inconsistent progress since 2022, even if it was partly caused by injuries.

When Christian Pulisic left for Chelsea in 2019, Dortmund was hoping they already had the next future American star on their books. Over the course of four summer tours and various marketing campaigns, Dortmund put a lot of effort into establishing the club as a major soccer brand in the United States. Hence, BVB have tended to offer Reyna more leeway than other young players, hoping he would become the face of Dortmund’s global presence.

The club, however, could very well run out of patience even though BVB still believe in Reyna’s potential, a source told ESPN. If Reyna wants to come back and play for Dortmund next season, his best ally may prove to be Lars Ricken, the longtime head of Dortmund’s youth academy who has just been promoted to the position of chief executive. But even if Ricken is in favor of giving Reyna another shot, another fresh loan spell in the coming season is once again a possibility.

At the international level, Reyna’s spot with the U.S. seems secure despite the lack of playing time at club level this year.

Reyna and U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter appear to have put aside the post-World Cup feud that threatened to undermine both of their careers. In March, Reyna deservedly won the Player of the Tournament award at the Concacaf Nations League, contributing a goal and two assists over two matches, including the clincher in the final against rival Mexico. This summer’s Copa America will provide Reyna with the kind of platform that can reignite his career.

That said, Berhalter also has longer term considerations — the biggest being the 2026 World Cup and building a squad that can outperform the USMNT’s round of 16 exit of the last World Cup. Chance creation was the U.S. team’s biggest weakness at the tournament in Qatar, and Reyna is the key to the U.S. improving in that area.

For that reason, Berhalter will be eager to see Reyna raise his game by getting the kind of steady playing time that has eluded the player for the past few seasons. It seems unlikely that given Reyna’s talent, he’ll acquire that dreaded moniker of a squad player who never plays. But if he’s going to become the performer that he and the USMNT want him to be, he’ll need to sort out his club situation.

A big part of that for Reyna will be choosing more wisely than he did back in January when he went to Forest.