Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s goal at Cambridge United to win 1-0 could well be the decisive strike that sees Bolton Wanderers and Peterborough United just narrowly miss out on the automatic promotion positions. The experienced attacker rounded the hapless opposition goalkeeper to fire home a crucial goal.


The Rams will know they can’t overspend like they have done in the past if they do move up from League One back to the second tier. One notable case was Ikechi Anya, who burned a hole in Derby’s pocket during a turbulent period in the club’s recent history.

Under previous chairman Mel Morris, Derby weren’t known for being frugal when it came to transfer activity. The summer transfer window before the 2016/17 season saw the Rams splash the cash significantly. They forked out an excessive £8m fee to win Matej Vydra’s services alongside spending a further £4m on his ex-Watford comrade Ikechi Anya.

Derby fans must have been excited by the prospect of seeing Anya don a Derby strip after initially signing. He had notched up eight goals and 24 assists for the Hornets as a versatile presence before moving on.

However, the move would end up going down as a major flop. Anya made just 38 appearances for the Rams over four seasons before then calling time on his playing days in 2020.


Derby were bled dry by their 5-foot-6 dud even more when you look at his extortionate wage. Ikechi Anya’s salary at the time was 3.5 times more than what homegrown Rams product Louie Sibley is earning today under Paul Warne.

Anya would end up costing his side a staggering £5.8 million in wage costs in total according to Capology, heaps of money lost on a player who would only ever score once for the Rams.

Pocketing £28,000-per-week during his debut season in Derbyshire, which remained his wage throughout his wretched Rams spell minus a slight pay increase during the 2019/20 season, Anya was the club’s third-highest earner that same campaign, only pipped to the top by an aging Darren Bent and the aforementioned Vydra.

Derby top earners – 2016/17 Season
1. Darren Bent £30k per week
2. Matej Vydra £30k per week
3. Ikechi Anya £28k per week
4. David Nugent £25k per week
5. Alex Pearce £25k per week
Sourced by Capology

When looking at the highest earners in Warne’s camp now, the difference is staggering. Conor Hourihane sits at the top with £12,000-per-week, which wouldn’t even make a dent in this top five.

Sibley earns a meager £8,000-per-week in contrast to Anya’s pay packet currently, despite being the driving force behind Mendez-Laing’s breakaway strike versus Cambridge. He burst forward unchallenged to then play the ex-Cardiff City man into space.


With seven goals and five assists in all competitions this season, Sibley will be clamoring for a pay increase if Derby are playing Championship football next season.

However, there won’t be crazy increases for the sake of it. Warne’s men aim to progress steadily after nearly going bust the last time they were in the second tier.