The former Sevilla and Liverpool man made just seven appearances in the Premier League for the Canaries last season and he drops down a division in search of more minutes
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The former Spain youth international arrived in England in 2007 when Liverpool picked up the then-teenager from his boyhood club Sevilla, with the La Liga club receiving a minimal compensation fee.
Ayala made five Premier League appearances for Liverpool but he struggled to make an impact and was offloaded to Norwich for around £800,000 last summer. However, after just seven further top-flight appearances the 21-year-old is on the move again.
Speaking to Forest's official website, City Ground supremo Omar Al Hasawi said: "It is pleasing to have signed a player with such a wonderful pedigree.
"He's only 21 but has experienced life in the Premier League as well as in the Championship, and adds to the defensive resources at Sean O'Driscoll's disposal."