On paper, the fact that Derby County have lost arguably their two most gifted players doesn’t look particularly promising for manager Gary Rowett.
After five years in the first team, and relentless links with countless Premier League clubs, Derby’s failure to earn promotion to the top flight caught up with them as Will Hughes finally ran out of patience and jumped ship for Watford in an £8 million deal, The Guardian reports.
Gary Rowett faces a huge task replacing Ince and Hughes
And Tom Ince, who topped the club’s goals and assists chart last season, has followed him up the footballing ladder. According to Sky Sports, the talented winger cost Huddersfield Town up to £11 million, making him their record signing until Steve Mounie arrived from Montpellier days later.
Therefore, Rowett faces a huge challenge attempting to fill two huge voids in his starting XI. On the upside, however, he has around £20 million to play with.
And The Sun report that he could be closing in on two very sound investments. It’s understood that Leicester City midfielder Tom Lawrence is viewed by Rowett as a potential replacement for Ince and is in advanced talks over a £7 million move to Pride Park.
The one-time Manchester United prospect was simply sensational on loan at Ipswich Town last season. Lighting up Mick McCarthy’s rather dour side with moments of pure inspiration, and the odd wondergoal, Lawrence scored and assisted a combined 18 goals for the Anglian club.
And the report adds that Brentford winger Jota is another, perhaps equally exciting target. The Spaniard was in superb form after returning to Griffin Park in January following a disappointing loan spell in La Liga with Eibar.
He scored 12 goals in 19 starts from midfield.
Jota was in sublime form last season
And though Bees manager Dean Smith has attempted to play down the prospect of his key man moving to Derby, The Sun claims this will not stop them making a £6 million move.
Whisper it, but Derby signing two of 2016/17’s most exciting players could make fans forget about Ince and Hughes.