ROTHERHAM United record signing Freddie Ladapo has handed in a shock transfer request despite no clubs making a bid to take him from AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Manager Paul Warne admits to being surprised when the striker informed the club he wanted to leave a day after they had gone back to the top of League One with last Saturday's 2-1 triumph over Bolton Wanderers.
The boss says he would prefer the 28-year-old to leave now rather than later in the January transfer window so he can bring in a replacement but is still waiting for another team to put their money on the table.
"I'm a bit surprised," Warne said. "I got a call from his agent on Sunday morning saying Freddie handing in a transfer request. There wasn't a fall-out with us after the game or anything dramatic like that. He just feels that he wants his career to take a path somewhere else and I have to respect that.
"I can have conversations with him and can try to talk him around but it's his career and he's entitled to do what he has done if that's how he feels."
The striker, bought for £400,000 with add-ons from Plymouth Argyle in 2019, has scored 12 goals in 29 outings this season and has been a regular starter.
Warne has discussed the situation with chairman Tony Stewart. Ladapo is out of contract in the summer but the Millers have a 12-month option which ties the player to AESSEAL New York Stadium until 2023 and won't sell on the cheap.
"I'm not trying to be funny here, but I've not really heard of a transfer request in the last 20 years," the manager said. "I didn't know players still did that. I spoke to his agent. There hasn't been an offer. We've never turned down an offer for Freddie in two and a half years.
"I would understand it if we had turned down a few offers and the player felt frustrated that we weren't allowing him to do this or that and that we over-valued him. But that hasn't been the case.
"Until an offer comes in, it's just business as usual for me. Freddie has trained well today. I put him on the pitch in midweek (EFL Trophy at Crewe Alexandra) and he scored. There's no umbrage between us. He just feels he wants to leave. Until an offer comes in that is agreeable to the chairman he is our player.
"If come the start of February Freddie is still here then, as I will in the next few games, I'll use him as a see fit. If he scores a winning goal that gets us promoted, great. He's a good player. What he's done doesn't detract from his ability."
Rotherham already have attacking targets lined up. They weren't planning major additions this month but that will change if Ladapo departs.
"We wouldn't sign a striker knowing that potentially someone could leave. That wouldn't balance the books," Warne said,
"We have options that we like. If Freddie is to leave, which would be a disappointment to us all, I would rather it happened today than in three weeks' time.
"As I speak to you now, we've had no offer for him. There's nothing amazing to discuss. There's no fall-out."
The news of the request was made public by someone outside of the Millers camp, a development that has irked Warne.
"It's just a pity it's been leaked," he said. "I would obviously have rather kept it in house. I don't come running to the media every time something happens behind the scenes.
"It's disappointing. I'm Paul Warne, he's Freddie Ladapo. I have to do my job and he has to do what his is."