CHAMPIONSHIP clubs keen to sign Rotherham United’s Michael Smith have been warned they’re wasting their time if they try to land the striker on the cheap.
Several clubs in the second tier have expressed their interest in the 29-year-old after he impressed at that level last season during the Millers’ relegation campaign.
Rotherham don’t want to sell a player who has played a crucial part in two League One promotions for them and say any bidding has to start beyond the seven-figure mark.
“I speak to a lot of people a lot of the time and I know Smudge is on a lot of people’s shopping lists,” said manager Paul Warne.
“He is fundamental to our club and there’s no point offering a paltry amount of money to get him out of here.”
Among Smith’s admirers are Middlesbrough, Bristol City and Millwall.
The Millers’ hopes of keeping him away from the Riverside Stadium increased late last week when Boro signed Uche Ikpeazu, who is regarded as a similar targetman, from Wycombe Wanderers in a £750,000 deal that could rise to £1 million with add-ons.
“It isn’t the case that Middlesbrough are his only fans,” Warne said. “I think a lot of clubs in the Championship are his fans.
“We think the world of Smudge here. He’s been brilliant for us. I want him to have a good career but someone coming in with, like, £250,000 for him is never going to work.”
Despite Smith’s list of suitors there has been no concrete offer for his services so far.
Warne, who considers the free-transfer capture of Smith from Bury in January 2018 as one of his best ever pieces of recruitment, believes the financial implications of the Covid pandemic and second-tier teams’ previous excessive spending could work in Rotherham’s favour.
“If Smudge doesn’t go, it might be because everyone’s a little bit cash-poor at the moment because of the times we’ve been living in,” he said.
“In the Championship, a lot of clubs are in a lot of trouble. I don’t dispute the fact that clubs want him but I don’t know how many of them can actually buy him.”