Why Derby County should complete a loan move for Nathan Baxter
According to The Sun (h/t Derbyshire Live), Derby County have been linked with a loan move for Chelsea academy goalkeeper Nathan Baxter. As per the report, the 21-year-old is held in high regard by the coaching staff at Stamford Bridge and the Blues want him to go out on loan and gain some Championship experience next season.
However, the Rams will need to beat off competition from second-tier rivals Birmingham City, who are also in the race to sign the young shot-stopper on loan. (The Sun h/t Derbyshire Live)
Born in Westminster, Nathan Baxter started his career at Cray Wanderers before joining Chelsea’s youth system at the age of 8. The youngster represented the Blues across various age-group levels, winning the FA Youth Cup and the UEFA Youth League in 2015-16.
Baxter excelled during his loan spells at non-league clubs Metropolitan Police, Solihull Moors and Woking before joining League Two club Yeovil Town on a temporary deal back in the summer of 2018. The 21-year-old clocked up 38 appearances for Yeovil, winning the club’s Player of the Season award.
The young goalkeeper was loaned out to Scottish Premiership side Ross County last summer and made 14 appearances after recovering from a serious shoulder injury.
Derby’s goalkeeping woes
Lack of a reliable presence between the sticks was one of the major takeaways from Derby County’s campaign in the Championship last season as the Rams finished 10th, 6 points adrift of the playoff spots.
Kelle Roos started the 2019-20 season as the Rams’ undisputed No.1 following the departure of veteran goalkeeper Scott Carson on loan to Man City but a string of poor displays over the Christmas period prompted manager Phillip Cocu to hand over the first-choice duties to Huddersfield Town loanee Ben Hamer.
The change in personnel midway through the season hardly made a big difference, with Hamer keeping just 4 clean sheets in 25 appearances while shipping as many as 34 goals. In fact, Roos managed better numbers, keeping 6 clean sheets in 22 appearances, conceding 30 goals.
Roos’ save percentage of 68 in the Championship last season was marginally better than Hamer’s save percentage of 66. However, considering that neither goalkeeper looked too efficient in stemming the inflow of goals (Derby’s defensive record of 64 goals conceded was the worst in the top ten this season), Cocu should prioritise the recruitment of a new shot-stopper this summer.
Why Baxter could be an exciting addition
Standing at 6ft 3in, Nathan Baxter has just the perfect height to stamp his authority as a goalkeeper in the gruelling nature of the English second-tier.
The 21-year-old did exceptionally well in his previous loan spells at Yeovil Town in League Two and Ross County in the Scottish Premiership. So the Rams have every reason to believe he’s ready to make the step up to the EFL Championship next season.
Baxter still remains an unproven talent, but his exploits over the past couple of seasons suggest that the Chelsea starlet is good enough to provide Kelle Roos with some quality cover and competition at Pride Park. Hamer is back at Huddersfield while Carson’s future remains undecided, meaning that the door remains open for a young player like Baxter to make his mark.
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Derby County desperately need to sort out their goalkeeping issues if they are to challenge for a spot in the playoffs next season. Signing Nathan Baxter on loan should provide Cocu with a quality young talent in goal.