Derby hit the jackpot signing "crucial" star now surpassing Sibley . . .
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Derby hit the jackpot signing “crucial” star now surpassing Sibley in value.

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Paul Warne demonstrated, once again at League One level, this time with Derby County, that he is a promotion specialist as a manager for teams looking to get out of the third tier.

Amazingly, Warne’s most recent promotion success with the Rams, secured with a final-day win over Carlisle United to secure the second golden automatic promotion spot, was his fourth such achievement in his glittering managerial CV, with three of those four coming with Rotherham United before taking over at Pride Park.

There have been plenty of stars in Derbyshire this season who have helped the promoted Rams return to the second tier, with seasoned heads like Sonny Bradley and James Collins demonstrating their knowledge of the level with outstanding performances.

 

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, who is 32 years old, has perhaps been the finest of Warne’s more experienced players, with his transfer worth improving as a result, according to Football Transfers, despite being in his twilight years.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s transfer to Derby

Joining on a free transfer in 2022 after his Sheffield Wednesday contract expired, with the one-time Owls dud struggling at Hillsborough with just two goals and three assists in 18 games, the Rams took a chance on the 5 foot 11 winger coming good, knowing he was risk-free to some extent as a free agent.

Mendez-Laing’s debut season as a seasoned option down the flanks for Warne’s side showcased his class at the level in spurts, with the former Cardiff City man scoring eight goals and assisting on 11 in all competitions.

However, based on his second and more influential season in 2023/24, in which he played an important role in Derby’s promotion back to the Championship, Mendez-Laing was only getting started when he was first promoted to the first-team ranks.

Now, the ageing forward will have the opportunity to strut his stuff again in the Championship, this time with a point to prove after quitting the level in 2022 following the aforementioned disappointing tenure with the Owls.

Mendez-Laing’s season in numbers

Football journalist Jacob Hackett described Mendez-Laing as “crucial” to his team’s promotion-chasing exploits early in the season, and Mendez-Laing has blown everyone’s expectations out of the water at Pride Park by becoming such a talisman.

After the final whistle against Carlisle, Mendez-Laing finished the season with an impressive 27 goal contributions from 50 games, including this pivotal winner away at Cambridge United the day before the home game against the Cumbrians, which effectively sealed promotion.

The ex-Bluebirds attacker would also be given the captain’s armband for his side’s final six games in the third tier, basking in the glory of promotion while knowing he was a critical cog in Warne’s relentless machine, with this polished Derby team adding yet another promotion to his already impressive resume.

Warne did not spend a lot of money to put together the intimidating squad that was eventually assembled, instead taking advantage of free buys like Mendez-Laing, as well as additional free transfers in the form of Curtis Nelson, Conor Hourihane, and others who have contributed just as much to the success story as the former Wednesday winger.

According to Football Transfers, Mendez-Laing’s transfer value has risen as a result of his heroics for the Rams, with the explosive Derby number 11 now worth more than Louie Sibley, despite the fact that the homegrown product is ten years younger.

Mendez-Laing’s transfer value in 2024

Derby must thank their happy stars that they were able to sign the exceptional 32-year-old on a free two years ago, after he was valued around £1.7 million when he played for Cardiff in 2018.

Now, following two outstanding seasons in a row in his secure Derbyshire location, Mendez-Laing’s valuation has risen to £775k, which is more than Peterborough United spent for him in 2012 when he signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers for around £258k.

Mendez-Laing was a new kid on the block at Posh 12 years ago, highly regarded in the Molineux youth setup before moving on, but with his career coming to a close, his value to Warne’s side has risen since his early playing days.

The eight-time Guatemala international is also worth more than Louie Sibley in Warne’s camp right now, with the former Academy prospect turned regular first-teamer valued at a lower £602,000.

This is despite Sibley coming up trumps at important moments for Warne’s players throughout the arduous League One season, with the former Rotherham manager certain that both of them would be able to adjust to the challenging step-up a league with ease.

Louie Sibley’s season in numbers

Sibley has been in and around Derby since 2010, progressing through all of the youth setups to the bright lights of the men’s team and fulfilling his boyhood dream of playing for the Rams, particularly in a promotion-winning side.

The versatile 22-year-old, who can play on the wing or in the middle of the park, would score seven goals and five assists in all competitions, with two of the five assists coming near the end of the season as games grew more tense and stressed.

Sibley set up Mendez-Laing for the critical winner at the Abbey Stadium before the huge battle on the final day, and he also scored against Stevenage in February when the tight game looked destined to conclude in a draw.

Regardless, Sibley’s valuation has plummeted to £602k, despite his previous value of an astronomical £5.9m when he was first billed for big things at Pride Park in 2021.

Warne will want both Mendez-Laing and Sibley to step it up a notch heading into the Championship, using their excellent individual performances in an unforgettable collective season as a platform to improve even further in the second division, potentially increasing their valuations.

 

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