Wayne Rooney could be planning a move to bring Lee Gregory back to Derby County this summer.
That’s according to a report by Derbyshire Live, who claim that the 35-year-old Rams boss may be targeting a move to bring the Stoke City centre-forward, who spent the second half of the campaign on loan at Pride Park, back to the club for next season.
Speaking last month about the possibility of the £450,000-rated 32-year-old returning to Derby, Rooney, as cited by Derbyshire Live, stated: “Losing Lee was a blow because he was in good form. He’ll do his rehab and we will help him get back fit, and [will] obviously make a decision on Lee at the end of the season.
“I think he has been fantastic – attitude, energy, hunger. He’s very good inside the six-yard box, his anticipation to get himself in the right position to score goals is very good.”
While Gregory did manage to score three goals and provide one assist over his 11 appearances while on loan at Derby County, prior to picking up a hamstring injury that ruled him out of the club’s last seven Championship fixtures, there are a number of reasons why Rooney must avoid a move for the former Millwall man this summer.
Firstly, while the Derby boss may well be impressed with the striker’s hunger, energy and attitude, the fact remains that, throughout his career, Gregory has only ever scored 10 or more goals in a Championship season on two occasions – in his 2017/18 and 2018/19 Championship campaigns with the Lions, when he scored 10 and 12 goals respectively.
Secondly, with the £17,500-per-week forward still under contract for a further year with Stoke, unless Derby can somehow persuade the Potters to allow them to take Gregory off their hands for nothing, then he will cost a fee – something that, considering the state of Derby’s current finances, would appear to be a waste of money on a 32-year-old with little to no resale value.
Finally, there is an argument to make that there are much better options available for Derby in the transfer window, not only in terms of quality but also in price, with a number of impressive talents becoming available on free transfers this summer – such as Sunderland’s 29-goal hitman Charlie Wyke.
As such, it would be highly advisable for Rooney to resist the temptation to simply return to a player he knows in the upcoming transfer window, as the Rams need to make considerable improvements, rather than just treading water.