Derby County manager Wayne Rooney has revealed that club captain Tom Lawrence wants to stay at Pride Park next season and beyond.
However he has stressed that other clubs are interested in the Wales international and that the Rams are in a tough position with their inability to currently offer the attacking midfielder a new contract.
Until American businessman Chris Kirchner’s takeover of County has been rubber-stamped, the club cannot put new offers on the table for any of their players, with the majority of Rooney’s squad out of contract this summer.
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One of those is Lawrence, who has stepped up to the plate this season and tried his best to save County from relegation to League One – even though that did not happen in the end he still contributed to the cause with 11 goals in 37 Championship appearances.
It was reported back in November that Lawrence was earning £37,000 per week at Derby, with the club’s administrators apparently willing to let him go on a free transfer back in January to save money.
Those kind of clubs are expected to be interested in the 28-year-old this summer with his contract set to expire, but Rooney has offered a small dose of hope to Derby supporters when it comes to Lawrence’s future.
“He wants to be here but as we have said there are other clubs who are in for him and we have had open conversations about it,” Rooney said on the future of Lawrence, per the Derby Telegraph.
“He wants to be here but obviously things have to be right and where we are now I can’t offer him anything.
“I am really hopeful, and hoping he will be here next season along with a couple of the other lads who are getting heavily linked with other clubs.
“I think the great thing speaking to the players and having these open conversations with them, I can see how honest they are all being over it.
“There is a real maturity over how they are handling the situation, which I think is a credit to them.
“I know they want to be here, what we can’t afford to do is leave this club in the position it has been in. The players understand that.
“We need to make sure we do the right things to get the best squad we can get with the budget we are allowed.”
If Derby and Rooney were to convince Lawrence to remain at the club – and take a major wage cut whilst they’re at it – then it would perhaps be the signing of the season.
Lawrence has shown this season that he is a top Championship player and promotion-chasing clubs wanted him on their side when it came to January.
But it will be extremely difficult for Chris Kirchner to eventually put a contract on the table for Lawrence that can match what he will get offered by Championship clubs this summer.
You get the feeling that Lawrence knows that he would start for most second tier teams as well, so it does feel inevitable that he will leave Derby in the near future – but what a boost it would be if he were to stay.