The rebuilding job that needs to be done at the East Midlands club is going to be a massive one and will likely stretch across multiple windows.
There are reasons to be cheerful though – with two of the key positives the nucleus of young players at Pride Park and Wayne Rooney’s ongoing commitment to the Rams.
Rooney will likely be keen to add some more experience to his squad ahead of next season and Phil Bardsley, a former teammate of the Derby boss, looks an ideal candidate.
Bardsley has been linked with a move to Pride Park previously, with journalist Alan Nixon indicating they were “ready to move” for him back in April, but now could be the perfect time as Burnley have confirmed that he will be leaving the club this summer when his contract expires.
Derby have seen the value of experienced defenders in 2021/22, with the likes of Curtis Davies and Phil Jagielka both impressing, and the 36-year-old could have a similar impact should he join the Rams.
The drop down to League One level should suit Bardsley, who featured just three times as the Clarets were relegated from the Premier League this season.
The former Scotland international will surely have to take a pay cut but the prospect of playing under his former teammate and helping him in the rebuilding process may be really attractive to him.
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Signing the ex-Manchester United, Stoke City, and Sunderland defender could be particularly important should Davies depart.
The centre-back won Derby’s Player of the Season award after a brilliant 2021/22 campaign but is out of contract and there are reportedly clubs hoping to tempt him with a move back to the Championship – with the Rams unable to offer him new terms due to the delayed takeover.
Losing Davies’ experience and leadership would be significant but the arrival of Bardsley, a player with 303 Premier League appearances to his name, could help to soften that blow.
The seasoned Scottish defender may not be the most exciting of summer signings but he could prove to be very influential in the club’s rebuilding process.