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Although it may genuinely be the case that he is wanted as part of next season’s Premier League assault by Craig Shakespeare, Leicester City’s refusal to accept a £7million bid from Derby County for Tom Lawrence may yet be about money.
Derby have not gone overboard yet in the same way that Middlesbrough and Wolves have, but the Rams are known to have money. So in the usual cat-and-mouse way, clubs will usually not be willing to accept their first bid for a player.
In the case of Lawrence, they probably thought that ‘given we are now in August getting him in as soon as possible’ was the way to go and so they went to the Foxes with a bid they thought to be worthy of acceptance in order to land the player straight away.
The fact that it has been turned down means that Leicester could be looking for £10million+ for a player Ipswich Town got pretty much for free last season while he was on loan. It may mean that the best course of action is for Derby to abandon the deal as quickly as they thought they could finish it.
Lawrence is very good, at least at this level anyway, though he cannot be described as the only choice Gary Rowett has for this position. Other players such as Lewis MacLeod of Brentford or Jamie Walker of Hearts are at a very similar level to Lawrence, at least arguably, and would be available for much less money.
MacLeod arrived in West London from Rangers for only £1million and the Bees have proven on many occasions that they are willing to sell him. True, they’d look for a profit, but they would no doubt conclude a transfer with the minimum of fuss and the Scot is still probably better than anything Derby have in this position currently.
Walker is wanted by Rangers and given their resurgence and results so far in pre-season – a draw with Marseille and wins at Watford and Sheffield Wednesday – it would seem their judgement is spot-on right now. He is the type of player who could sit comfortably on the left of Derby’s 4-2-3-1 formation and I’d imagine he would be quite a success in this division.
The point is that nobody knows exactly how much these players are worth until they are given the chance to play at a certain level but for certain, they would cost less than Lawrence and have their deals conducted with the minimum of disruption to the club.