The Rams’ relegation from the Championship was confirmed on Easter Monday, meaning the club will spend next season in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1986.
Wayne Rooney says all of his Derby County players want to stay on for next season, despite the club’s relegation from the Championship and continued uncertainty off the pitch.
The Rams’ brave fight against the downside was officially over on Easter Monday, with their defeat at QPR combined with Reading’s draw against Swansea.
The club have endured a miserable season of administration, point deductions and transfer embargoes while American businessman Chris Kirchner is currently trying to secure a sorted takeover. Rooney knows this deal is crucial not only for the future of the club, but also for the chances of keeping the current crop of players together.
He says each of the players wants to stay: “It’s so rare and so unique and so positive, that they all want to stay. The players like being here, they like the way we work and they can see me and my coaches are really develop them, not only to make them better football players, but also better people, which is also important.
“I can say 95 per cent of the players in there that I would like to keep, but what I can’t do is tell them what the salary will be. Players out of contract, I know there’s other clubs sniffing them and putting salaries in front of them which unfortunately sometimes is what is needed, at the moment we are not able to do that.
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“I’ve spoken to the majority of them. That’s the frustrating thing, they know I want them to stay and that’s all I can give them.”
Speaking about the whole team’s desire to stay put, he added: “If the EFL is okay with that (Kirchner’s proposed business plan) then I know what the budget is and you can work. on player salaries. Once that’s confirmed, I can in principle put numbers to the players, but ultimately we still need the property to be done.”
As it stands, only a handful of players are under contract with Pride Park beyond this summer, including Jason Knight and Krystian Bielik. Richard Stearman is one of many whose contracts are expiring soon, but he has indicated he would be willing to stay. He said: “Like most of the team I still want to be here. There is a lot to do for this to happen, the takeover needs to be completed and between the manager and the staff they need decide who they want to hang around and then sign a lot of players.”
While Rooney wants to retain the core of the current team, he also knows new players will be needed to freshen things up for life in the third tier.
He added: “We always knew there was a possibility that we could be in Ligue 1, so we worked on the players, which players will suit the way we play. We profiled the players for Ligue 1. and the Championship, we know which players we want to bring.”