Hull City boss Leonid Slutsky has hardly hidden his frustration about the lack of transfer activity at the KCom Stadium this summer – especially with a number of the club’s key players heading for the exit.
However, there should be a winning smile back on the Russians face with The Mirror (live blog, 12.51PM) reporting that Hull have completed the signing of Arsenal prospect Jon Toral for as little as £3 million.
A hugely gifted central midfielder with roots in Barcelona’s world-renowned youth academy, Toral also has bags of Championship pedigree after dazzling spells at Brentford and Birmingham City. However, it’s at the latter where Toral’s star shone brightest, the Spaniard thriving under manager Gary Rowett.
In the words of Rowett himself, Toral possesses that ‘little bit of magic’ (The Express). The fact that he swept up at the 2015/16 end of season awards suggest the manager wasn’t alone with his opinion.
Therefore, it was no surprise when the Derby Telegraph reported that Derby County had made contact with Arsenal about the prospect of signing Toral this summer. After all, Rowett is currently plotting a promotion push at Pride Park after being sacked by Birmingham in December.
What could've been
And considering that Derby scored the fewest goals in the Championship’s top ten last season, signing a midfielder with genuine craft and creativity would have been a smart move to say the least.
And the fact that Derby have missed out, to a possible promotion rival no less, comes as a huge disappointment. The Rams’ midfield was devoid of skill or any discernible goal threat last season and, so far, Tom Lawrence is the only new attacking player signed this summer with the ability to change that.
A £7 million addition from Leicester City, per The Mail, Lawrence shone on loan at Ipswich Town last season and the prospect of him combining with Toral would have struck fear into the heart of opposition backlines.
Instead, Derby will be hoping Lawrence hits the ground running. He can’t afford not to.