It’s probably fair to say that there were more than a few eyebrows raised when Derby County completed the signing of Colin Kazim-Richards this summer.
Given the clear need there was for the Rams to add some attacking firepower to their squad ahead of this season, the recruitment of the 34-year-old journeyman, who has never exactly been prolific in front of goal by a striker’s standards, is unlikely to have inspired confidence that Derby had got the right man for the job.
Admittedly, with just three goals in 15 league games so far for the Rams, Kazim-Richards is probably not the goalscorer that Derby arguably still need, although his impact on the team it seems, cannot be understated.
Despite the fact it is far from an eye-catching return, Kazim-Richards’ three goals are still enough to put him top of the club’s individual Championship scoring charts for the season so far, and it seems as though he is offering way more than just to his side at the minute.
Since his arrival at Pride Park, Kazim-Richards looks to have made himself a key figure for the Rams’ squad, thanks to his abilities both with and without the ball.
The striker’s work rate and physicality mean he has become a useful outlet for the club in the final attacking third, while the experience and presence he offers has seen him become a useful source of leadership for a side who currently find themselves in the unexpected and unwelcome position of a relegation battle.
Indeed, interim Derby manager Wayne Rooney has recently sung the praises of Kazim-Richards for his influence on the club’s playing squad since his move to Pride Park, and if someone who has seen, done and won what Rooney has in his career is saying that about you, then you know you’re doing something right.
Can you identify these 17 former Derby players based on the three clues provided?
As a result, it could certainly be argued that Derby must now repay the favour, and look to secure a new deal for Kazim-Richards, both for their own good, and his.
When he arrived at the club back in October, Kazim-Richards only signed a one-year deal with the Rams, meaning he could once again be free to leave the club at the end of this season, something that he has been known to have to do on a fair few occasions in his career so far.
Indeed, clubs from outside the country can already open talks with Kazim-Richards about a pre-contract agreement for this summer, and given he has already played in eight different countries in his career, that prospect is unlikely to daunt him.
Add to that the fact that a free transfer for a player who is still proving himself to be rather useful at a high level of football in a difficult financial period for clubs across the planet is likely to be an appealing one, and you do have to feel as though there will be growing interest in the striker from someone somewhere, as Kazim-Richards’ deal with Derby gradually moves closer to its expiration.
Considering that impact that the veteran striker has already had for the Rams, that is a situation that the club will surely be keen to avoid, particularly given the help his insight from so long in the game could provide to the many young players there currently are coming through the ranks at the club.
It could be admitted that at 34-years-old, Kazim-Richards is not really at the stage of his career where he is in contention for a long-term deal.
You do however, feel he has done enough to show that he can make a difference for the club beyond the end of this season at the very least, and that is something they must surely take advantage of, before it becomes too late.