Derby County have landed their top summer transfer target by securing the services highly-rated Dundee United striker Johnny Russell.
The in-demand frontman, 23, has signed a four-year contract with Derby after a fee, which will remain undisclosed at Dundee United’s request, was agreed with the Tannadice outfit last week.
Russell has become Derby’s third summer signing after Lee Grant of Burnley and Chris Martin from Norwich City put pen-to-paper back in May.
Scotsman Russell, who has attracted interest from clubs in England, Scotland and abroad this summer, rattled home an impressive 20 goals in just 38 appearances last season.
The diminutive forward was at the summit of Nigel Clough’s summer shopping list when plans for the 2013-14 were drawn up some time ago.
His arrival means Clough has a strong four-man frontline of Jamie Ward, Conor Sammon, Chris Martin and Russell to select from as the Rams seek to build on their tenth-placed finish in 2012-13 and compete at the top end of the Championship next season.
Commenting on Russell’s arrival Clough said: “We’re delighted to sign Johnny and his goalscoring exploits north of the border are something we’ve been aware of for some time.
“He’s been prolific in the last few years and from what we’ve seen of him we believe he can transfer that form to the Championship.
“At 23 he is a player who’s only going to improve as well and we feel he’s the right type of player to complement the options and players we already have in attack.
“We’ve had some stiff competition from a number of clubs to get him here so it’s nice to come out on top and convince him Derby County is the best place for him.
“Johnny is an ambitious and hungry player and he shares our desire to be fighting it out for a top six spot next season and we’re pleased to have him on board.”
A product of Dundee United’s youth system, Russell made his debut in professional football for United as a substitute in May 2007 in a 2-0 defeat to Falkirk.
He moved on loan to Forfar Athletic to gain first-team experience in August 2008 for five months and he bagged two goals on his debut in a 3-0 win against East Stirling to notch his first professional strikes, before returning to score his first United goal in a 4-0 FA Cup win at, ironically, East Stirling in January 2009.
A loan spell for the 2009-10 season at Raith Rovers followed before Russell returned to Tannadice to become a first-team regular for the Terrors.
He scored nine goals in 34 outings in 2010-11 before bagging 15 in 43 appearances during 2011-12, including a goal and two appearances in the Europa League, to set him up for an eye-catching 2012-13 campaign, where he again gained European experience by appearing in the Europa League.
His 20 goals in 38 appearances reads even better when a broken leg, picked up in February, is taken into consideration during a fine run of six goals in five matches.
Russell scored two hat-tricks last season, against Stranraer in the League Cup and Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premier League, and his longest run without a goal was just six matches.
He is yet to gain full international honours for his country but has caps at Under 19 & 21 level and if he maintains his impressive form in a Derby shirt, a full Scotland call-up is unlikely to be far away.