Derby County could be set for a reunion with one of their former youth stars this summer, with Liam Delap linked with a move to Pride Park.
TEAMtalk reported yesterday that alongside Cardiff City, Middlesbrough, Stoke City, and West Bromwich Albion, the Rams were keen to take the 18-year-old on loan next season.
It is understood that Manchester City have not yet decided whether to let him leave but we’ve outlined the potential impacts on the East Midlands club if he did return for the 2021/22 campaign…
It would solve an ongoing issue for the Rams
There’s no doubt that the forward line has been an issue for the Rams this season.
Beyond Colin Kazim-Richards, no Derby player has scored more than three goals this season and time after time they’ve looked toothless going forward.
Delap has proven himself a natural goalscorer already – firing 23 goals in 22 U23s appearances over the past two seasons and scoring on his senior debut for Man City – and will likely be hungry to impress.
Signing a player of the 18-year-old’s calibre should solve the Rams’ ongoing striking issue – though signing a bit more cover could be a smart move.
It could mean a lesser role for Colin Kazim-Richards
Few will have predicted that free agent signing Colin Kazim-Richards would have played such an important role for the Rams this season but he’s quickly become a key man.
It would be a surprise to not see his contract extended for at least one more season but Delap’s arrival would likely mean a lesser role on the pitch.
The 34-year-old has missed just three Championship games since his Derby debut – playing most of them from the start – and is the club’s top scorer this term.
Signing Delap will likely involve agreeing to give him regular opportunities, while the teenager may well cement a place above Kazim-Richards in the pecking order with his performances.
It seems likely the experienced striker will see fewer opportunities.
The departure of Martyn Waghorn and/or Lee Gregory
The arrival of Delap could well spell the end of the Derby careers of one of or both Martyn Waghorn and Lee Gregory.
The former’s contract is set to expire in the summer and is coming off a really disappointing campaign, which has seen him add just three goals and four assists.
Gregory joined on loan from Stoke City in February but his contract with the Potters expires in the summer, which would leave him open to joining the Derby permanently on a free transfer.
The 18-year-old’s arrival may well persuade the Rams that they can do without one or both of Waghorn and Gregory moving forward.