Why Derby County should make Uche Ikpeazu a top priority in January
According to Derbyshire Live, Derby County have been credited with an interest in Hearts striker Uche Ikpeazu, with Rams manager Phillip Cocu currently on the lookout for reinforcements to bolster his attack in January.
However, if the Rams are really serious about bringing the 24-year-old to Pride Park during the mid-season trading period, they would need to fend off interest from Championship rivals Queens Park Rangers, Bristol City and Wigan Athletic, as well as Scottish giants Celtic, who are also keeping tabs on the powerful hitman. (h/t Derbyshire Live)
The Harrow-born centre-forward rose through the youth ranks at Reading before joining Watford back in 2013 but he never made a first-team appearance for the Hornets.
Ikpeazu had three separate loans stints at Crewe Alexandra and also spent time at Port Vale, Blackpool and Doncaster Rovers in the lower divisions before finally departing Vicarage Road to join Cambridge United in League Two
The 24-year-old enjoyed a fruitful spell at the Abbey Stadium, scoring 22 goals in 80 appearances before signing a pre-contract agreement with Hearts of Midlothian to complete a move north of the border last summer.
Ikpeazu’s stay at Tynecastle has yielded decent returns, with the striker netting 8 times in all competitions last season, despite being on the sidelines for large quarters of the campaign to nurse a foot injury.
Having propelled Hearts to the 2019 Scottish Cup final with some crucial strikes, Ikpeazu is very much a fan favourite at Tynecastle these days but with so many clubs in the EFL Championship weighing up a swoop for the hitman, he might as well be on his way back to English football as early as in January.
To put things into perspective, Derby County should make Uche Ikpeazu a top priority ahead of the January transfer window, given that the Rams have endured a rather mediocre start to their campaign in the Championship under new manager Cocu.
Having enjoyed a scintillating run of the playoff finals last season under Frank Lampard, early signs do not look all that good for the Pride Park faithful this term, with the Rams currently sitting 13th in the standings with only 3 victories in their first eleven league games.
Besides defensive midfielder Krystian Bielik, who came through the door from Arsenal, there was hardly another statement signing at the club in the summer window, as many would have anticipated after the departure of last season’s star loan trio of Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Harry Wilson.
The Rams have managed 15 goals in the Championship thus far, which is pretty decent, but they will need their strikers to step up later on in the campaign if they are to get themselves back in the race for a playoff spot.
Veteran Chris Martin has recovered from a shocking loan spell at Hull City last season and has really come to life in recent weeks after being reinstated in the team by Cocu, whilst Martyn Waghorn has also found the net on four occasions.
However, with Jack Marriott and Mason Bennett blowing hot and cold, Derby need to bring in an out-and-out centre-forward in January and someone like Uche Ikpeazu could prove to be an inspired addition to the ranks.
Standing at 6ft. 3 inches with a burly frame, the 24-year-old is an absolute man-mountain of a centre-forward who could possibly add that much-needed physical edge to Derby’s attack, while his pace, ability to hold on to the ball and bring others into the game with some smart link-up should provide Cocu with a ‘Plan B’ to outsmart the opposition.
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Plus, Ikpeazu is also proficient in winning aerial duels inside the box with minimal fuss and his arrival might just get the best out of some of the other attackers in the squad.
With that in mind, Derby County making a move for the powerful striker in January is the need of the hour.