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Newcastle United seem keen on offloading Scottish central defender Grant Hanley this summer after securing promotion back to the Premier League as Championship winners.
Unsurprisingly there are immediate candidates for his signature, given that he has a proven record in this division. Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers and Derby County have sprung straight to the top of the list, but which club would be ideal for the player?
The first thing that springs to the mind is that Derby are more likely to challenge for promotion. Gary Rowett first steadied the ship and then began to improve Derby’s play, since replacing Steve McLaren as manager and will be given the freedom by the owner to shape his own squad this summer.
Wolves, on the other hand, have struggled, though they are a club big enough to attract decent players and Hanley should know that if he went there, it would be a signal of intent from the Molineux side. It may well come down to which club has the great need for Hanley, ensuring him that he would be a regular starter.
On the face of it, you would believe the great need comes for Wolves. Lower down the pecking order than Derby currently, Paul Lambert has not been able to decide who should start next to skipper Danny Batth regularly at the back. Should Hanley sign, he would go straight into their team but is likely to be asked to play on the left of the central defensive pairing next to their highly thought-of captain.
Over at Derby, Richard Keogh has had a good season but is not irreplaceable and at 30-years of age, he will not be in the team forever. Alex Pearce has been outstanding this term and is happy to play on the left of the two, leaving perhaps Hanley to come in on his preferred side. Hanley would probably command a starting berth at Derby right in his favoured position and would be joining a club which will have very serious title ambitions.
As long as there is not a mass exodus from Pride Park over the summer, Derby can definitely challenge for promotion. They have the better manager with a lot of potentials and he is someone who has played in Hanley’s position, meaning he knows exactly how to look after the former Blackburn Rovers man and get the best of out him.
Hanley didn’t play very often for Newcastle this season but was brought in by Benitez because he knows that the player belongs, at the very least, towards the top of the Championship and so with that undoubted quality, Derby are likely to make a move. This could be Grant Hanley’s ideal destination.