Could Cardiff City's contract-rebel Aron Gunnarsson be final piece of Derby County's jigsaw?

Derby manager Gary Rowett during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Queens Park Rangers at iPro Stadium on November 21, 2017 in Derby, England.

Derby County should consider partnering Joe Ledley with Aron Gunnarsson as the midfielder prepares to leave Cardiff City.

Gary Rowett manager of Derby looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Wolverhampton at iPro Stadium on August 12, 2017 in Derby, England.

If there’s one player Derby County need in the January transfer window, it’s a combative and high-energy central midfielder to inject some life into a rather stately engine room.

While Joe Ledley has made a terrific impact since signing on a free in September, going eight games without defeat and recently signing a contract extension until the end of next season, Tom Huddlestone’s famously unflustered style continues to divide supporters.

Joe Ledley of Derby during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Ipswich Town at iPro Stadium on November 28, 2017 in Derby, England.

A dynamic and box-to-box powerhouse could be the perfect foil for the defensively minded Ledley. Ironically, Craig Bryson, who was loaned to Cardiff City in the summer before Derby’s deadline-day deal to sign Birmingham’s Maikel Kieftenbeld fell through, might well have been the man for the job.

But with the BBC reporting that Aron Gunnarsson could leave Cardiff after refusing to extend a contract that runs out in the summer, perhaps the Iceland international skipper should once again be on Derby’s radar.

Perfect foil

According to The Sun, Derby wanted Gunnarsson last summer and were willing to pay around £2 million. And they should consider tempting Cardiff into a sale at a similar price with the Welsh promotion chasers knowing that they will lose the influential midfielder on a free in a few months’ time.

Aron Gunnarsson of Cardiff City and Ryan Sessegnon of Fulham in action during the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Cardiff City at Craven Cottage on September 9, 2017 in...

The 28-year-old is a belligerent presence in the centre of the park renowned for his ability to hassle and harry opponents while adding bite and fight to the midfield – something Derby appear to lack with Huddlestone in the side.

But with Derby’s gameplan under Gary Rowett revolving around hard-work and edging tight games, an experienced and battle-scarred partnership of Ledley and Gunnarsson could lay down the platform for a genuine promotion challenge this season.

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