Derby have spent just over a decade in the Championship, most of which has been spent challenging for the play-offs and automatic promotion.
Due to Derby’s constant push for promotion, signings have followed of that magnitude to keep up the pressure on their rivals. With some high-profile signings in recent years, Derby have spent big in an attempt to get back to the Premier League, no more so than this season’s agreed transfer of Wayne Rooney (scheduled to be completed in January).
With multiple-big money signings not quite fulfilling their aims, some of Derby’s shrewd deals can be seen as more successful.
Here, we take a look at the three of the biggest Derby bargains over the last five years…
Last season, Derby reached the play-off final in dramatic circumstances under then manager, Frank Lampard. Following Lampard’s appointment, Derby made a host of quality signings, one of whom was centre-back Fikayo Tomori who joined on a season-long loan from Chelsea.
Upon signing, Tomori was immediately a starter and only missed one game in the league all season, making 55 appearances in all competitions. Partnering Richard Keogh, Tomori was having his first season in which he was a regular starter, having been loaned to Brighton and Hull previously with limited playing time.
Most Derby fans were unanimous in their praise of the England youth international, even creating a chant of ‘You’ll never beat Tomori’ alluding to his defensive prowess. While it was largely assumed throughout the second half of last season that there was little chance of Tomori returning to Pride Park this term due to Chelsea’s transfer ban, Derby moved to sign alternative targets, Krystian Bielik and Matt Clarke, who have been largely underwhelming thus far, exemplifying Tomori’s impact.
Another Frank Lampard signing makes the list in the form of attacking midfielder, Mason Mount. Mount was one of Lampard’s first signings coming in for a season-long loan before his teammate, Tomori, followed.
Having massively impressed at Vitesse Arnhem the season before, there was a lot of anticipation surrounding how Mount would cope with a seemingly more demanding league. However, Mount passed that test with flying colours proving to be one of Derby’s key players as they made the play-off final, only to narrowly miss out to Aston Villa.
During his season at the Rams, Mount made 38 league appearances scoring eight and assisting five. While these stats don’t exactly scream that Mount was the most exciting talent in the league, they also don’t tell the entire story of his impact. The proof in Mount’s impact comes in the fact that he endured a lengthy spell on the sideline keeping him out of nine league games, where Derby struggled to score (only scoring two in a game twice in that spell). Upon his return, Derby’s fortune flipped and they put six past Rotherham with Mount scoring one and assisting two.
Mount has since hit the ground running for Chelsea, scoring four goals in eight league games.
The third Derby bargain is right-back Cyrus Christie, who arrived from Coventry City for a fee in the region of £100k. While this transfer was not as headline-grabbing as the previous two entries, this signing represented the summer window that Derby had at the time (2014), with many low-cost signings, following play-off heartbreak the season before.
The reason for this being a bargain is quite simply that he cost virtually nothing to Derby whilst going on to make 109 league appearances registering nine assists and two goals. A steady impact from a player signed at a low cost, without much expectation on his shoulders.
Christie proved over his time at Derby that he was more than competent at this level, leading to receiving 22 caps for the Republic of Ireland. Christie had earned a transfer to fellow promotion rivals, Middlesborough in 2017, to then sign for Fulham in 2018 for fees of £2.5million and £3million respectively.