The Rams, however, have seemingly been beaten to his signature by Sunderland as manager Jack Ross is set to make the defender his third recruit of the summer at the Stadium of Light.
Willis came through the Coventry academy and went on to make more than 200 appearances for the club.
The 24-year-old defender captained Coventry to a safe mid-table position last season, and now he feels he can step up to the next level and Sunderland’s promotion ambition could allow him to do that.
But it comes as a surprise to see Derby not push ahead with a potential deal. The Rams are in need of central defenders, following the release of Alex Pearce and loan star Fikayo Tomori returning to Chelsea.
Right now, the Rams only have Richard Keogh and Curtis Davies as the only senior centre-backs on their books. Natural midfielder George Evans started their recent friendly in the US alongside Keogh in defence.
Willis could have been an ideal free transfer option to bolster their back line. Newly-appointed manager Phillip Cocu, however, may have his own targets in mind.
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