THE Championship bidding has begun for Rotherham United wanted man Matt Crooks.
League One rivals Ipswich Town had been the only club to show their hand, tabling two offers massively below what the Millers’ believe their prize asset to be worth.
However, the action is now starting to hot up in the second tier where midfielder Crooks was so impressive last season as Rotherham took their survival fight to the last day.
“There has been a bid from a Championship side but it hasn’t reached the chairman’s valuation,” manager Paul Warne confirmed.
The Millers would prefer to keep Crooks as they go in search of a third successive League One promotion and say it would take a figure well into seven figures for them to consider selling the player, who has a year left on his contract.
Championship teams Middlesbrough, Peterborough United, Derby County and Cardiff City are known to be admirers.
“There is loads of interest in him,” Warne said. “I presume that will just continue and we’ll just have to look at each offer on its own merits and come to a decision that’s right for the football club first.”
Last week, Ipswich returned with an improved offer after a failed attempt to prise the 27-year-old away from AESSEAL New York Stadium for £400,000.
The Advertiser understands their latest figure was £500,000 or £600,000 and that the Championship offer exceeds that.
“You’re not going to sell one of your best assets to a League One rival unless it’s for a significant amount of money,” Warne said.
“I don’t regard, say, £600,000 for Crooks as a significant amount of money.”
The Millers signed the hard-running, six-foot-five-inch midfield man from Northampton Town for around £200,000 two and a half years ago and he has gone on to make 97 appearances, scoring 19 goals.
He was named in the League One Team of the Year in 2020 and won the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month award last January.
Rotherham would be loath to sell to a fellow League One side, although Ipswich, with money to spend under new ownership, have made Crooks a prime target and are unlikely to give up easily
“If he is to leave us, I’d like to think he’s taking a massive step up,” Warne said. “Playing in the same league, I don’t regard that as a massive step up.”
ROTHERHAM United this week missed out on their first summer signing after a defensive target had an 11th-hour change of heart.
Negotiations with a right-back had reached an advanced stage and manager Paul Warne said he was “pretty confident” he would land his man.
However, a late U-turn by the player, who was with a League One club last season but has extensive Championship experience, scuppered the deal.
Warne had spoken to the defender on Zoom and had also talked to his former managers.
The Millers, gearing up for a third-tier promotion push, need another right-sided defender after Matt Olosunde turned down a new contract.
“There’s room for someone to push Wes (Harding) or to replace Wes. If he’s better than Wes, he’ll play,” said Warne.
Rotherham have yet to decide whether to renew their interest in St Johnstone right-back Shaun Rooney.
The Millers made an unsuccessful £200,000 bid for the 24-year-old a month ago and haven’t increased it.
“There is no development there,” Warne said. “The offer was rejected. We’re not really a club that offer way below where we’re prepared to go. We offer what we think is fair and what is affordable to us.
“Whether we revisit it or not, I don’t know. We’ve put in offers for different players at different clubs. I don’t like to talk about them specifically in public because I don’t think it’s fair on the players, but that one was leaked from Scotland and I’m not going to deny it because it’s the truth.
“I haven’t moved the bid in any way since our original offer.”
The boss also wants to sign a centre-half, after Angus MacDonald and Curtis Tilt were ruled out for the start of the season, a midfielder and a striker
“We’ve lost Shaun MacDonald and Lewis Wing so we need something in the middle of the pitch,” he said.
“We started off last year with two more strikers than we have now, when we had Kyle Vassell, Jamie Proctor and George Hirst, so we need something at the top of the pitch too.”
Departures from AESSEAL New York Stadium could be on the cards following conversations about some of the Millers’ fringe men
“There have been enquiries about a couple of the lads who, from the outside, might look like they’re on the periphery a little bit,” Warne said. “We’ll consider that interest.”
Rotherham may be heading to Hungary, as they’d originally hoped, after reviving plans for a Budapest boot camp.
A decision is expected shortly.
ROTHERHAM United are making a new centre-half a top transfer target after losing two central defenders for the start of the season.
Neither Angus MacDonald or Curtis Tilt are fit for action, leaving the League One Millers significantly down on numbers at the heart of their rearguard.
Manager Paul Warne confirmed this week that he is in the market for a reinforcement before August 7 opening day.
“Yeah, definitely I am,” he said.
Tilt is sidelined until October with a hamstring injury picked up on international duty with Jamaica while the Millers haven’t specified the reason for MacDonald’s absence.
That leaves Warne with only two senior centre-backs in Michael Ihiekwe and Richard Wood and untried youngster Jake Cooper who has yet to make his league debut.
“I can’t expect Woody or Icky to play every minute of every game for the first 15 matches or whatever,” the boss said.
“Tilty is going to be out for another ten weeks and then we’ve got to try to get him fit without any setbacks.
“We’re definitely going to have to sign a player who can play above the centre-halves we have or at least compete with them.”
MacDonald reported back last Thursday with the rest of the squad after the players’ summer break but is no longer training.
Warne could, potentially, move right-back Wes Harding or left-back Joe Mattock into the middle of defence as makeshift cover but would much prefer to sign someone who naturally plays in that position.
The departure of right-back Matt Olosunde, who joined Preston North End after rejecting a new deal at AESSEAL New York Stadium, had added to Rotherham’s headaches at the back.
“We’ve gone from having a really good-looking solid backline of four centre-halves and four full-backs to having two centre-halves and three full-backs,” Warne said.
“The defensive line is a priority, definitely.”