MICHAEL Smith and Michael Ihiekwe are leaving Rotherham United.
The pair, at the end of their contracts, have decided their futures lay elsewhere despite the offer of new and improved terms at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Manager Paul Warne wanted to keep top scorer Smith and defender Ihiekwe on board for the club's return to the Championship next season.
However, the boss has now accepted that the two are moving on, bringing an end to a protracted saga.
He told the Advertiser: “We offered them really impressive terms but both players feel like they are going to play somewhere else. I think I know where but not definitively.
“I would rather rip the plaster off and move on.
“With Smudge, I was never convinced he was going to stay but with Icky I thought he might.
“As I said, the club has given them really good offers and I have been really happy with the chairman's support.
“We couldn't have moved the goalposts any more.”
Hull City had been leading the chase for Smith (30) while Derby County were strongly linked with Ihiekwe (29).
This week South Yorkshire rivals Wednesday emerged as front runners for their signatures, having already signed another ex-Miller in Will Vaulks.
Speaking earlier in the week, Warne said: “If both players leave then there is no shame on our behalf. They have done great for us.
“I don't want people to think they have been greedy. They have been brilliant servants for us. Both of them have done four years on free transfers.
“I understand they are at an age where they regard their next contract as their biggest potentially and probably their last big contract.”
Smith and Ihiekwe had been due back when the first team squad report for pre-season training tomorrow and, as late as this week, Warne said the offers on the table had been “tweaked” and improved to tempt them to stay.
Warne added: “It has been long and protracted but looking at the transfer market, everything is.
“The market is quite slow at the moment.”
Rotherham will now have to press on with replacing last season’s 25-goal leading scorer and League One Team of the Year man Ihiekwe.