Graeme Shinnie is starting to look like one of the bargains of the summer as Derby County reportedly beat the likes of Celtic and Rangers to his signature.
The Scotland international was a free agent after his contract at Aberdeen expired.
Derby ultimately won the race, yet it’s only until now the Rams supporters have been able to appreciate what he brings to the table following a difficult start at Pride Park.
Shinnie arrived at a time when Derby were in the middle of changing managers. Frank Lampard joined Chelsea, and Phillip Cocu was appointed as his successor.
Cocu left Shinnie out completely at the start of the campaign. The Dutchman’s reasoning seemed to suggest the Scot was struggling in training to adapt to Derby’s style of play.
How Graeme Shinnie has earned his place at Derby County:
An injury to Tom Huddlestone at Barnsley last month, however, left the Rams bare on midfield options. Shinnie stepped in to make his Championship debut at home to Luton Town, and he put in a man of the match performance as Derby ran out 2-0 winners.
The Rams have since enjoyed two more straight home wins. Shinnie excelled in both, scoring a last-gasp winner against Wigan before starring on Saturday against Middlesbrough.
According to Whoscored, Shinnie ranks as Derby’s best player with a 7.47 average rating.
The former Aberdeen ace averages a team-high 4.4 tackles per game. Moreover, despite playing as a deep midfield player, his average of 1.8 key passes is also Derby’s best.
Shinnie absolutely ran the game against Middlesbrough. He offers great energy, a no-nonsense approach to tackling and plenty of quality and positivity on the ball too.
The 28-year-old seemingly could have stayed in his comfort zone by joining either Celtic or Rangers. Instead, he moved to the Championship, and he is starting to thrive.
Derby have had a questionable recent record in the transfer market. Shinnie, however, is proving to be an excellent piece of business and there is likely more to come.