Why Derby County should try and win the race for Birkir Bjarnason
According to the Derbyshire Live, Derby County have been credited with an interest in former Aston Villa midfielder Birkir Bjarnason, who is currently a free agent following his departure from Villa Park.
The 31-year-old Icelandic international was a fringe player for the Lions in the Championship last season but he chose to terminate his contract with the club prior to the August deadline, meaning that Derby shouldn’t have any problems in registering him outside of the transfer window.
The Rams, though, are not alone in the race to sign the veteran central midfielder, with Derbyshire Live suggesting that Championship strugglers Stoke City, as well as German outfit Nurnberg, are also exploring the possibility of offering Bjarnason a deal.
Birkir Bjarnason has enjoyed a nomadic career in European football, having turned professional with Norwegian club Viking way back in 2006. The Icelandic international spent time in Belgium with Standard Liege, as well as at Pescara and Sampdoria in Italy, earlier in his career before going on to play in the Champions League and the Europa League with Swiss heavyweights Basel.
The Icelandic international spent time in Belgium with Standard Liege, as well as at Pescara and Sampdoria in Italy, earlier in his career before going on to play in the Champions League and the Europa League with Swiss heavyweights Basel.
The 31-year-old made a total of 54 appearances for Villa in all competitions and scored 5 goals in the process following his move to the English second-tier from Basel back in 2017.
A veteran of 79 caps for Iceland at the senior international level, Bjarnason has netted 12 goals for his nation since making his debut in 2010, having represented them at UEFA Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Meanwhile, Derby County finally managed to get themselves back to winning ways with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Birmingham City at home in the Championship on Saturday, with the Rams registering their first triumph since the 2-1 victory over Huddersfield Town on the opening day early in August.
Phillip Cocu’s side climbed up to 15th in the standings with that victory but even the manager probably knows that his team would need to be a lot more consistent if they are to challenge for a top-six finish and make it to the playoffs.
Of course, the addition of the legendary Wayne Rooney to the ranks in January would be a massive boost to their surge for promotion but Derby should also look to add a few more midfielders to their ranks, with Tom Huddlestone the only experienced figure in the middle of the park.
George Evans and academy product Jason Knight are decent back-ups but former Aberdeen midfielder Graeme Shinnie, who arrived at Pride Park on a free transfer in the summer window, has failed to make an impact, with Cocu’s lack of confidence in the 28-year-old limiting the Scotsman’s involvement to only a couple of League Cup ties.
Moreover, Derby lost experienced central midfielders like Craig Bryson and Bradley Johnson before the start of the season and, while former Arsenal youngster Krystian Bielik has done really well, adding another experienced midfielder won’t be a bad idea moving forward in the season.
To that end, Birkir Bjarnason has the quality, work-rate, as well as the CV, to back it up at Pride Park and the acquisition of a player of his calibre on a free transfer would definitely be a shrewd piece of business for the Rams, who will be expected to reinvigorate their surge for promotion in the coming weeks.
The 31-year-old might not prove himself to be a sure starter for Cocu but he is certainly good enough to add much-needed depth in the ranks, while also increasing competition for places.
The Icelandic international is also capable of chipping in with valuable strikes from central midfielder, which is often something that separates the best from the rest in the race for promotion.
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All in all, the fans might not be thrilled with the news of Derby’s links with Bjarnason but he would make a useful addition to the squad, nevertheless.