Derby County are close to completing the signing of experienced midfielder Tom Huddlestone from Hull City for a fee of around £2 million. This could see the 30-year-old return to the club where he began his professional career 14 years ago.
The midfielder has had a very successful spell at Hull where he has made over 172 appearances during his four-year spell at the KCOM Stadium. This has included a number of highs and lows with the club’s relegation from the Premier League last season coming as the most recent disappointment. But the big question is, does he have the motivation in him to do it all again with Derby in The Championship next season?
Derby County have reportedly activated a £2 million release clause in his Hull contract, and the midfielder will now discuss personal terms over a potential return to Pride Park. He has recently flown back from Hull’s pre-season tour in Portugal, and his move back to Derby now appears to be a formality.
A move back to the club where it all began could be exactly what Huddlestone needs at this stage in his career. It could give him a new lease of life, and there would be no better way for him to hang up his boots than helping the Rams achieve promotion to the top flight after a nine-year absence.
He made his professional debut for Derby at just 16-years-old back in 2003 against Stoke City and was voted man of the match as he instantly impressed. He had made a total of 95 appearances for the Rams before he left for the top flight as he joined Tottenham Hotspur in a deal worth £2.5 million.
Despite struggling with a number of injuries during his eight-year spell at White Hart Lane, he still made a whopping 144 appearances for the club and scored eight goals. He decided to move on in his career in 2013 as he joined Hull for around £5.25 million. He now looks set to leave the club for a fresh challenge next season.
A move back to Derby will see him reunite with 32-year-old defender Curtis Davies who has also made a move from Hull to Derby already this summer. By adding two experienced professionals who already know each other’s game inside out, it can only be seen as an advantage for Derby next season.
One area which Derby’s squad has been criticised for over recent years is their mentality after numerous failed playoff attempts. There are many factors which have arguably contributed to this with a lack of experience being one of them. Derby boss Gary Rowett will be hoping that by adding two players who have already ‘been there and done it’, it will help his squad in their quest to achieve promotion to the top flight next season.
It has been an underwhelming summer of transfer activity for Derby supporters to endure so far as the club battles against Financial Fair Play restrictions. This has seen some of the club’s assets such as Will Hughes, Tom Ince and Cyrus Christie leave the club this summer.
Many will see the addition of Huddlestone as a direct replacement for 22-year-old academy graduate Hughes who recently left the club to join Watford.
Huddlestone will certainly bring many attributes that Hughes could simply not offer. He has more strength, know-how and experience at this level and will not crumble in the big games. One criticism of Hughes was that he often went missing or got overpowered in some of Derby’s biggest games or during periods when it was not quite going to plan.
Rowett certainly seems to be opting for experience in his signings this summer, and it will be interesting to see whether this is a tactic which pays off for the Rams in their upcoming Championship campaign.