Derby midfielder Robbie Savage believes the club need to spend £10m to challenge for promotion next season.
The 36-year-old is set to play his last game before retirement when the Rams travel to Reading on Saturday.
He told BBC Radio Derby: "We're fifth-bottom because we're not good enough. It needs changes and I think this team needs a good £10m spent on it.
"If you give Nigel Clough a budget to work with, I think he can take this club into the Premier League."
Derby currently sit 19th in the Championship table with just one win in their last eight games.
Savage made his 630th professional appearance in Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Bristol City at Pride Park.
"I think ten changes would be about right," he explained. "There'll be some big teams coming down from the Premier League and it will be an exciting season if the board spend money.
"No disrespect, but as an experienced player on the pitch you're thinking 'How can we change the game?' The gaffer hasn't got any options.
"We need people to run in behind, somebody to get hold of the game in midfield and a couple of centre halves."
And Savage believes the Rams, as well as manager Clough, warrant top-flight football.
"The club deserves it," he insisted. "We've got a magnificent stadium, training ground and fans.
"One thing I know about Nigel Clough is that he's not here for money. He'd probably do this for free, because he loves the club."
Savage began his career as a trainee at Manchester United, before spells at Crewe, Leicester, Birmingham and Blackburn before joining Derby for £1.5m in January 2008.
He received a standing ovation after being substituted in his final home appearance at the weekend.
"The fans have been tremendous - 95% of them," Savage commented. "I think there's 5% at every club who still wouldn't have taken to me, but the fans here have been absolutely magnificent and I can't thank them enough.
"I just wish the Derby fans could have seen me when I was at my peak, when I was 27 or 28. I'll be honest with you at Birmingham and during my early days at Blackburn I was unstoppable.
"I've done well for Derby but they didn't see me at my best."
Savage, who will continue a career in the media after retirement, went on to further reflect on his time at Pride Park.
"It's been great fun, its been a rollercoaster but that's it - I wont be playing football on this ground [Pride Park] ever again, unless its in a celebrity XI with Robbie Williams.
"I hope I'm playing next week - it's my last ever game. I've had boots made with '631' on, so I hope I'm in the side."