Derby County are now becoming used to getting excited about future life in the Premier League, only to be disappointed again and ending up back in the Championship.
This is set to be the case once again and another year in England’s second tier is calling the club from the East Midlands. The longer a club stays in the Championship, the less money they appear to be able to spend without serious foreign investment. In Derby’s case; they are still an attractive proposition for players because of their size and history.
So, even without a lot of ready cash to spend this summer, Derby are one of the few clubs who could make waves in the free transfer market. We have explored two players who are about to become free agents and who Derby could attempt to sign in the summer.
Dale Stephens (Brighton and Hove Albion)
Brighton’s Dale Stephens, whose contract ends in June, has been a mainstay for Albion in their midfield during their presumably successful promotion push. Having played over 30 games for Chris Hughton’s side, Stephens will expect to be part of their plans for the upcoming Premier League campaign. However, in these cases, clubs will very often look to strengthen themselves and Stephens could well be a casualty of that.
Should Stephens not be offered the chance to play in the big time or if Brighton endure a nightmare end to the season, Derby should show the ambition to step in and offer the player the chance for a whole new promotion tilt next season.
Patrick Roberts (On loan at Celtic from Manchester City)
This name may appear even more ambitious, but should Derby consider themselves title contenders next season, this is definitely the way they need to think. Patrick Roberts, Manchester City’s very talented 20-year-old winger, is out of contract by the end of May.
Roberts has had a couple of loan spells at Celtic where much was expected of him. However, he has been limited to an average of 38 minutes per game in the Champions League and 52 in the Scottish Premiership which is probably a lot less than the player would have wanted.
It remains to be seen whether Brendan Rodgers intends to keep the former Fulham starlet beyond this season but one thing is for sure; he looks some way off getting a chance in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team. Although it’s a step down from the Champions League, the English Championship is definitely a better and more competitive league than the Scottish Premiership and so it would be a good step for Roberts.
Derby have had success with a similar move in the past for Patrick Bamford and Roberts, looks a really good fit for Derby County.