The Rams first signing in the close-season brought Robert Earnshaw to Pride Park for a club record fee of £3.5 million.
The striker said the lure of the Premiership led to him leaving Norwich City and signing for the Rams. The Rams bid was activated because of a buy-out clause in his contract with the Championship club. The Wales striker had the clause inserted into the deal which took him to Norwich from West Bromwich in January 2006.
Earnshaw said: ‘I wanted to be part of Norwich’s promotion challenge this season but the lure of Premiership football was too great.’
The lively striker scored 20 goals last season despite being sidelined for three months with a torn groin muscle, and the Rams boss Billy Davies says Earnshaw will provide a great foil for fellow striker Steve Howard and is the first of several top-quality players set to join the club.
The Rams fought off competition from Charlton Athletic to sign the 26-year-old Welsh international for a club record fee, beating the previous best of £3m spent by Derby on four separate occasions. The Rams paid that amount for Seth Johnson, Giorgi Kinkladze, Craig Burley and Branko Strupar.
The Rams boss cut short his holiday`s to settle the deal after he heard of the interest of other clubs including Charlton Athletic.
Davies said: “We were all too aware of Charlton’s interest, that’s why we moved so quickly.
‘It was all to do with timing because of the clause in his contract.
‘Charlton were very interested and they threw an awful lot at it to take him there so I’m really delighted that he’s decided to join us. We had fantastic support from the club to make sure the deal went through.’
Earnshaw, who signed a three-year deal at Pride Park, is the club’s first signing since returning to the Premier League.
Derby’s top-flight status was a major reason behind Earnshaw’s decision to move to Pride Park.
‘I’ve really enjoyed my time with Norwich City,’ he said.
‘I wanted to be part of Norwich’s promotion challenge this season but the lure of Premiership football this season was too great.
‘I wish Norwich every success in the future.’
Earnshaw arrives at Derby with over 100 club goals to his credit and an impressive scoring record at international level, something that attracted Davies to the striker.
‘It’s great that we’ve started our signings with someone of such class,’ said Davies.
‘He’s a proven goal scorer at Championship, Premiership and international level and we’re bringing him in at a good age.
‘We’re going to get his best years. He’s got that pace, that sharpness, that striker’s instinct that all the top players have.
‘He’s a real fox in the box, he loves scoring goals. Not only that but he’s a very, very nice lad. I’m looking forward to working with him.’