Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Wednesday December 27 2006
Rams on the transfer rumour mill
The transfer window opens again on January 1st and Rams boss Billy Davies will try to strengthen the squad, to continue the push towards Premiership football. He has confirmed that plans are in place to do this and he has backing from the board. The jovial Scotsman said, "Unless they give me £20millon, I'm not going to be happy,' joked Davies, before adding on a more serious note: 'We certainly will strengthen in January.
'I'm delighted to say we are going into the window with the intention of improving the squad, for sure.'
The Rams have been linked to a number of players in the press over recent weeks but Davies has his priorities right. First he would like the David Jones' loan move from Manchester United to become permanent for a figure of around £1m and Davies is also keen to add striker Jon Stead to his squad on a permanent basis. Over recent weeks reports have said that Stead`s move will not happen and the Black Cats coach Roy Keane has stated that all his players out on loan will return to the club in January or when their loan period ends. Stead's loan spell from Sunderland is due to expire after the New Year's Day clash against Preston North End at Deepdale. 'We will start to open negotiations with Sunderland regarding Jones future and what the possibilities are,' said Davies.
Stead hopes to continue his Pride Park career but he has been kept in the dark. "I've not spoken to Keane since I came here so I don't know his thoughts,' Stead said.
'I think I can perform to Premiership level and the way things are going here, this is a massive chance.
'It was tough last season. I was playing well, I just wasn't scoring. I think Ronaldo would have struggled to score in our team last season.'
The Rams have also been linked to a number of players, but Davies is keeping his cards close to his chest. Four names that keep coming up are striker Freddy Eastwood from Southend, midfielder Stephen Pearson from Celtic, Crewe`s centre forward Luke Varney and West Ham United defender Tyrone Mears. Davies has ruled out a move for Pearson after the Rams transfer offer was turned down earlier in the season and Davies has now brought in Jones. Although the move may come to fruition if the Jones move from Manchester United falls through.
Eastwood was on top of Davies` list earlier in the season and two bids from the Rams were turned down. The 23-year-old was thrusted into the limelight after scoring the winner for Southend against Manchester United in the League Cup. He has scored 45 goals for the Shrimpers in 93 games and a fee of around £2million is being reported.
Varney is 24 and signed for the Alexes from Midland Football Alliance club Quorn F.C. in 2003 for £50,000. He has played more than 80 games for the Gresty Road side and a fee of £750,000 has been reported.
Tyrone Mears signed for West Ham United for £1million on 5 July 2006, from Preston North End. He worked with Davies, who was the coach of the Lillywhites and a possible re-union is on the cards.
There is also a fight for Rams talent young midfielder Giles Barnes, and reports have Tottenham and Newcastle United at the top of the list to sign the teenager. But Davies hopes to keep him at Pride Park saying: "He signed a new four-year deal in August and is happy at Derby.
"The board have said they have no intention of selling the player and feel Derby is the best place for him to develop."
Magpie`s boss Glen Roeder has been linked to a number of players too in the transfer window, but he only has his eye on two Championship players. He said only two players interested him from the Championship and Barnes was one of them.
He said: 'Barnes is an offensive midfield player and what I would call a truly fine modern-day footballer and the sort of player we should be looking at.
"By admitting our interest, we are not giving away any secrets because a lot of top clubs would like to sign him."
Spurs boss Martin Jol hopes to raid Derby again for Barnes after snapping up Tom Huddlestone from the Rams in 2005. Jol is reported to be preparing a £3 million bid for the exciting midfielder.
It will be a busy time for the Rams and given the professionalism and hunger shown by Davies in his time at Pride Park he will buy wisely and the push for automatic promotion or a play-off spot is what he and the Rams faithful hope for.
Date:Wednesday December 27 2006
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