Tom Huddlestone is closing in on a spectacular return to Derby County this summer. Sky Sports report that the Hull City midfielder’s former club have activated his release clause of £2 million.
He is now expected to discuss personal terms over a move back to Pride Park. This would be a statement of intent from Gary Rowett and one was needed after the sales of Will Hughes Tom Ince and Cyrus Christie.
Although they now have money to spend, they have been significantly weakened from last season and it is important that they make the right signings to push the team on for a promotion push. If they complete a deal for Huddlestone, it will be a huge step in the right direction.
What will he bring to Pride Park?
Aside from being an excellent player in the second tier, Huddlestone will boost the mood among supporters if he does sign for the club. There have been concerns after the sales of three key players, but the Hull City midfielder has a good relationship with the fans and it will be great to see him back where it all started.
The former England international was one of the most exciting midfielders in the country when he broke through for the Rams and he played over 100 times for the club before earning a move to Tottenham. He is now coming back as a better and more experienced player.
Huddlestone is an excellent passer of the ball and he will be able to slot into the Will Hughes-shaped hole in the Derby midfield. The 30-year-old has a good range and he is capable of putting the ball on a sixpence behind the opposition back four. It will be interesting to see how the Rams set up this year as having a player like Huddlestone opens up options for Rowett.
He is comfortable at dictating play from deep in a possession-based side. However, his passing range means that he is effective in a team that plays on the counter-attack. Ikechi Anya has bags of pace and if the club can replace Ince with another quick wide player, they will pose a serious threat with their runs in behind now that they have Huddlestone pulling the strings.
Can Derby challenge for promotion?
The Championship will be a tough division this year as there are lots of big clubs, many of whom will be expecting to challenge for promotion. There was optimism at Pride Park after the appointment of Rowett towards the end of last season, but that dissipated over the summer due to the sales of key players.
The task now is to bring in players that suit Rowett’s vision for the club. It is positive that the club are prepared to back their manager and if this goes through, it could be one of the signings of the summer. Huddlestone is an England international who has lots of Premier League experience.
For a fee of £2 million, it is a steal and leaves the rest of the budget for other positions. A few more signings like this one and Derby will have a great chance of challenging for a top-six finish.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Alex Hannam