After a slow few days regarding transfer speculation around Derby County, the rumours are back out in force and those ‘oh so trustworthy’ ITKers are begging for attention once more. A few more rumours have popped up and many have died down, including the murmurings of Will Hughes being a target for Newcastle United. This seemed to be rubbished by the entire internet straight away, to the relief of many Rams fans, though I’m sure that’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to interest in the young man.
Now that new Manager Nigel Pearson has been in charge for a week, the incoming rumours are starting to hot up, though many do seem a bit speculative or even lazy in their journalism.
According to Twitter sensation Alan Nixon and The Sun, The Rams are preparing a £4 million bid for for The Robins’ 20 goal striker; Jonathan Kodjia, in an effort to bolster the front-line that faltered at times last season. However, reports suggest that City manager Lee Johnson will not sell the Ivorian international – who scored his first international goal in June – “unless the bids get silly”.
His arrival would hint at a change of system from Derby’s reliance on a lone striker up front (more often than not Chris Martin) in a 4-3-3 formation. Whether this would suit Derby’s team would need to be proven, or even whether numerous players would need to leave in order to make space for a change of system. Given Kodjia’s importance to Bristol’s survival last season, a huge bid may be required to tempt Kodjia away from Ashton Gate and also seems somewhat unlikely given both Nigel Pearson and Derby Chairman Mel Morris have both stated that no large scale recruitment will be taking place over the summer.
However, whether that means no transfer activity on the scale of last season’s nine summer incomings or no large transfer fees going out remains to be seen. A bid for Kodjia could turn out to be worth it if he becomes Derby’s Andre Gray and fires the Rams into the Premier League.
Fan Reaction – Largely positive given his pedigree in the Championship and the constant worry that Derby have no Plan B if Chris Martin either becomes injured or suffers a drop of form. However, many do worry about the price for Kodjia particularly if he is used out of position as were so many Rams forwards last season.
Pearson’s appointment at Derby was always going to bring up connections with fringe players of the Leicester Premier League winning squad and lo and behold they have come to fruition, according to The Leicester Mercury. Midfielder James has missed the last year after suffering an anterior ligament rupture in May 2015, and therefore missed out on a Premier League winner’s medal having not played a single minute of the 2015/16 campaign. This possibly makes him ‘easy pickings’ for a team pushing for promotion being led by his old manager, but whether the move would make any sense from a Derby point of view is more complicated.
The Rams have a packed midfield, with some expensive and very talented players struggling to make the bench if everybody is fit, a move for another midfielder would make very little sense unless Derby are prepared to let some of their most prized players leave.
A move for De Laet would similarly make little sense to Derby, whilst reportedly not in Ranieri’s plans at Leicester, Derby are also quite well covered in the defensive area, with the defence remaining almost unchanged during last season. Once again, there would have to be a number out outgoings from Derby’s squad in order to facilitate an incoming member that would not want to sit on the bench having collected a promotion medal from Middlesbrough AND a Premier League winners’ medal last season.
Fan Reaction – Little actual reaction, what there is though, is somewhat neutral, though most do agree that the signings wouldn’t necessarily pay off and could just result in an ever climbing wage bill.
Having been released from Derby’s Play-Off opponents and eventually promoted Hull City, Sone Aluko is available as a free agent and has been linked with The Rams as another option for Derby’s front line. The 27-year-old has had a somewhat indifferent few years in football, scoring only six times in the last three years, but a new start could be what the Hounslow-born Nigerian international may need.
However, his reported £1 million-a-year wages (£19k a week, so less than most in the Derby first team but a high amount to pay for someone who would probably be no more than a back up) may put the Rams off taking a risk on Aluko. Another signing that would presumably require some high profile names leaving the iPro – Nick Blackman, Abdoul Camara and Johnny Russell arguably in the firing line – Aluko is probably no better than the wingers/back-up forwards that Derby already possess.
Fan Reaction – Almost entirely negative at this stage. Many view it as an expensive transfer for little reward – particularly when compared to the options Derby already have. Many would rather academy product Offrande Zanzala was given a chance to shine.
According to Spanish newspaper Marca, Derby’s marquee signing of January 2015 has “verbally agreed a contract” with the Albicelestes in order to make his current season-long loan deal permanent. Raul Albentosa signed for The Rams under much fanfare from Spanish side Eibar but failed to make an impression on the Derby first team, though many off-field problems plagued the initial settling-down period in the East Midlands. Having moved to Malaga on loan last summer with a view to a permanent deal – reportedly €1.2 million – Albentosa has done enough to impress in Spain and new manager Juande Ramos intends to make the move permanent, with Derby reportedly keen to sell.
However, Malaga are apparently unwilling to meet the €1.2 million clause and intend to pay no more than €800K. Derby’s current response to this remains to be seen but it is unlikely that they will accept anything less than €1.2 million, leaving some to suggest that the Rams may consider opening Albentosa up to any bidders willing to meet the clause. His loss would not be too much of an issue for Derby, with a large number of defenders already fighting for their futures in the East Midlands and it may be best for both parties if the Spaniard was let go.
Fan Reaction – Overwhelmingly positive but only if the agreed price is met, many are sure another club would meet the asking price and are therefore more concerned with how much Albentosa is sold for as opposed to when.
Derby’s first choice left-back for the past two years up until suffering an infamous ACL injury in November, Craig Forsyth is reportedly attracting the interest of three championship clubs – Derby’s fellow Play Off failures Brighton, a rejuvenated QPR and mid-table Fulham. Due to the arrival of Marcus Olsson in January to cover Forsyth’s injury, Derby now have two excellent left-backs to fight for the spot on the left side of defence, with neither ready to accept a place on the bench – and rightly so.
Combined with the emergence of Max Lowe from the academy, there is now a whole host of options open for Nigel Pearson to choose for his primary left-back. Given the Scot still has two years left on his contract with the Rams and is widely regarded as one of the most solid left-backs in the Championship, it seems unlikely that the iPro club would consider selling Forsyth unless a ridiculously high bid came in. It would be a blow to lose a player of his calibre, and particularly to any of those three teams that could easily be promotion rivals for the Rams next season.
Fan Reaction – Hugely negative. Derby fans recognise Forsyth’s ability and many would sooner have him over Olsson as the starting left back. Unlikely to accept the club selling him unless the money is huge.
The next few weeks will give us a true indication of the direction Pearson intends to take Derby and it remains to be seen whether this squad is deemed already good enough to make another go at promotion under a new boss.
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