Why Derby County should go all out for Armand Gnanduillet in January
Rams boss Phillip Cocu is keen to bolster his attacking options with the acquisition of a new striker during the mid-season trading period and has set his sights on Armand Gnanduillet, who is out of contract at Bloomfield Road at the end of the season. (Football Insider h/t Derbyshire Live)
As per the report, the 27-year-old Ivorian hitman, who has been in blistering form in League One this season, could be available for a cut-price fee in January, with the Seasiders likely to cash in on the player to avoid losing him for free next summer.
Gnanduillet, who has featured in all but one of Blackpool’s first 17 league fixtures so far, including 14 as a starter, has already racked up an impressive tally of 10 goals to propel Simon Grayson’s side to 5th in the League One standings.
Blackpool have laid down an early marker as one of the playoff favourites this term following a strong start to the campaign and Armand Gnanduillet has been instrumental in the club’s surge up the standings with his rich vein of form in front of goal.
Born in France to parents of Ivorian descent, Gnanduillet played for the reserve team of La Havre and Poissy in the Championnat National before making his move to English football with League Two outfit Chesterfield in January 2013.
The 27-year-old also spent time on loan at Tranmere Rovers, Oxford United and Stevenage in the fourth-tier, and had a two-year stint at Leyton Orient before earning a move to Blackpool in 2016, where he netted 8 goals in all competitions in his debut season to guide the Seasiders to promotion to the third-tier.
Gnanduilet hasn’t looked back ever since and has gone from strength to strength at Bloomfield Road over the past couple of seasons. Having top-scored for the Seasiders with 14 goals in the previous campaign, the 27-year-old looks well on course for another prolific season this time around.
Meanwhile, Derby County find themselves at 16th place in the Championship standings following a lacklustre start to the ongoing campaign.
Having made it all the way through to the playoff finals under Frank Lampard last term, the expectations among the fans at Pride Park would have been sky-high prior to the start of this season.
To that end, however, they have every reason to be disappointed with how things have panned out under the stewardship of Cocu so far, with the Rams just not managing to string together a consistent run of victories to mount a push for the playoffs.
Still only seven points adrift of the playoff spots with 30 games left to be played, Derby County can’t be written off just yet but a tally of just 18 goals scored and as many as 21 goals conceded in 16 games certainly epitomises the need for reinforcements at both ends of the pitch when the transfer window reopens in January.
A replacement for former club captain Richard Keogh continues to be a top priority while the Rams should also consider scouring the market for a new and impactful striker to possibly come through the door as an upgrade on the likes of Chris Martin, Martyn Waghorn and Jack Marriott.
Tom Lawrence has arguably been the club’s most influential player in the final third so far, however, with Marriott, Waghorn and Martin only sharing 8 goals among them so far, one does get the feeling that Derby desperately need to bring in an in-form striker to achieve a better scoring record in the second half of the campaign.
Moreover, the Ivorian’s average of 3.1 shots per game points to a more direct style of play as compared to Martin (1.1), Waghorn (1.9) and Marriott (1.7). Indeed, those numbers have a lot to do with the stylistic difference between the two teams in question but Gnanduillet’s goal tally of 10 can hardly be ignored.
Another thing that is worth mentioning here is that all his 10 goals in League One this season have come from inside the box, including 3 from within the six-yard box.
That clearly lies testimony to the 27-year-old’s instinctive nature as a striker and his ability to pounce on opportunities inside the box.
Standing at 6ft 4in with a towering frame, Gnanduillet could add that much-needed physical and clinical edge to Derby’s attack, and his presence is likely to hand a significant boost to Cocu’s overall dynamics.
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All in all, Gnanduillet is still very much an unproven material in the Championship but at 27, the time might just be right for him to test his credentials at a higher level.