Derby County’s Tom Huddlestone became the subject of one of the most bizarre stories on transfer deadline day. According to a report by Sky Sports, the midfielder was in talks over a permanent move to Serie A side Udinese.

The Rams have gone about lowering the average age of their squad this season. Players such as Jack Marriott, Mason Mount, Harry Wilson, Duane Holmes and Fikayo Tomori have all come in and impressed.

Huddlestone, 32, certainly isn’t a long-term option at Pride Park and his contract expires at the end of the season. He may end up departing the club for a second time this summer, having previously left in 2005.

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But that doesn’t detract from his importance to the first-team for the remainder of the campaign. The former Derby academy graduate plays the quarter-back role and ultimately sets the tempo for the Rams.

Under manager Frank Lampard, Derby have moved away from the pragmatic, direct style of football played under former boss Gary Rowett. Now, it’s expansive attacking football played on the deck.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

The importance of Tom Huddlestone:

Huddlestone’s diverse passing range allows Derby to move through the gears and keep ticking over in possession. In the recent victory over Hull, he showed exactly why it would have been mad to sell him.

The 32-year-old topped the passing charts with an 85.9% accuracy rate and a whopping 10 accurate long balls. Defensively, he was a rock in-front of the back four, making two interceptions and three clearances.

Huddlestone has over the past six weeks seen George Evans selected ahead of him on numerous occasions. But, ask any Derby fan, and they will tell you which player they’d prefer to see in there.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Evans, a summer signing from Reading, is young at 24 and has plenty of potential. But the team no doubt functions better with Huddlestone in there, and he is a crucial component of Derby’s push for promotion.

The Rams are currently seventh in the Championship table, behind sixth-placed Bristol City on goal difference. With 16 games to go, the race for the playoffs is on and the East Midlands side stand a much better chance of making them with Huddlestone remaining at the club.

Also see: Derby County fans react to Martyn Waghorn’s performance against Hull City

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