Derby County have been dealt a fatal blow in their reported attempts to bring Sone Aluko to Pride Park this summer.
As confirmed on the League One club’s official website, Ipswich Town have secured the signing of the 32-year-old on a one-year deal, despite the forward having trained with Wayne Rooney’s side for most of the summer.
Indeed, the 35-year-old manager appeared very keen on landing the former Reading attacker ahead of Derby’s opening Championship fixture of the season against Huddersfield Town today, with The Guardian reporting as recently as this week that Rooney was hoping to get a deal over the line for Aluko.
In the report, the former England captain is quoted as saying: “I’m hoping we can get [deals for the players training with the club] done. I know some of them have other offers on the table. I need to keep working to try and get them in and I will do that.
“I slept on the couch in the office last night [Thursday] and I’ll be sleeping on my couch again in my office tonight, trying to get these players over the line as quickly as possible so that we don’t lose out on them.”
While Rooney’s squad selection issues for the Huddersfield game have eased somewhat following the arrivals of Curtis Davies, Richard Stearman and Ryan Allsop on Friday, the fact remains that the 35-year-old has just 11 fit outfield first team players available for the fixture.
Furthermore, the Derby manager has no natural options in Aluko’s primary positions of right winger and second striker, making it all the more galling that they haven’t secured a deal for the former Hull forward.
Indeed, the manager will have undoubtedly been hoping that any of Ravel Morrison, Aluko, Sam Baldock and Phil Jagielka – who have all been training with the club – had also joined in time for opening day.
However, with Aluko not making the move to Pride Park this summer, seemingly as a result of the club being unable to offer the forward an acceptable deal before Ipswich swooped in, Rooney is sure to be fuming.
It is difficult not to feel sorry for the Rams boss, as well as the club’s fans, as the circumstances in which the Derby manager is having to operate would be challenging for a seasoned club coach, let alone one in his first managerial role.
However, for now the 35-year-old will have to make do with the players he has at his disposal, but with their main targets beginning to be picked off by other clubs, his current crop could well be the only players he has for the foreseeable future – something which would not bode well for the club’s survival hopes this season whatsoever. Aluko’s move to an Ipswich side operating one division below Derby is not what Rooney needed ahead of today’s season-opening clash against Huddersfield.