Derby County boss Nigel Pearson is looking to secure the fifth promotion of his life in football this season, and he could boost the Rams’ chances of a return to the Premier League with the signing of Wales international James Chester.
The 27-year-old centre-back played every minute of the Dragons’ glorious Euro 2016 campaign and outshone many of the more illustrious names at the tournament.
And those displays appear to have impressed the County boss, with sources suggesting he’s on the cusp of prising the player from West Brom.
Despite a starring role in France this summer, the former Hull City man has struggled for game time at the Hawthorns, with boss Tony Pulis typically favouring more robust players over a cultured defender like Chester.
So, having made just 13 Premier League appearances for the Baggies, it’s easy to understand the temptation for the former FA Cup finalist to head on, and with his former gaffer Pearson in charge, the duo could reunite again to great effect.
Though the experienced gaffer exited mere months after bringing Chester to Hull from Manchester United in 2011, the classy defender had already begun to shine under Pearson. And with both men having developed impressively in the intervening years, Rams fans could be set to see a dynamic duo in action.
With the fee needed to secure his signature believed to be around £6.5m, Derby will have to dig deeper than usual – but after last season’s defensive collapse in the play-offs, the value of a player with Chester’s quality could turn out to be far higher.
Derby begin the Championship campaign by hosting another of last season’s high-flyers, Brighton – with 21/20 for the Rams to secure all three points.
Meanwhile, it’s 11/4 they finally win promotion back to the Premier League after a number of near-misses. Securing one of Euro 2016’s most reliable performers would certainly be one way to boost their chances of success this time around.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing