Rotherham are heading for disaster over “standout” centre-forward Michael Smith amid interest from Championship clubs.
According to the Bristol Post, Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson is considering a swoop for the Millers’ centre-forward, who is also wanted by fellow Championship side Middlesbrough. The report claims that Pearson is working with a tight budget at Ashton Gate and has identified the 29-year-old as a player who could come in and strengthen his attacking options ahead of next season.
Gazette Live then followed up on that news by claiming that Rotherham are willing to facilitate a Championship move for Smith at the right price. The club are prepared to let him move on to chase his Championship ambitions following Rotherham’s relegation to the third tier.
In November of last year, Rotherham manager Paul Warne heaped praise on “standout” forward Michael Smith, who “lead the line really well”. He told The Star: “I think he was our standout player by a country mile, he led the line really well, he worked hard and he caused them problems.
“Every time a cross came in, I fancied him to get on the end of it and he got himself a deserved goal.
“His performance was one of the highlights of the first half for me for sure. That really pleased me and he looks a lot more like the Smudge we love.”
Rotherham fans will surely be fuming if Smith is allowed to leave the club this summer. He is one of the best players left at the New York Stadium following relegation to League One, and Warne’s squad could take a big hit by sanctioning his exit to Bristol City or Middlesbrough.
The 29-year-old averaged an impressive WhoScored rating of 6.90 across 44 appearances in the Championship for the Millers, which was only bettered by Michael Ihiekwe and Lewis Wing, proving that he was one of the key players in Warne’s squad.
The £2,900k-per-week beast was Rotherham’s top scorer in the division with 10 strikes and one of only three players with more than three league goals. Matt Crooks (six) and Freddie Ladapo (nine) were the only other Rotherham players who found the net at a semi-regular rate. This highlights Smith’s importance to the side and illustrates how keeping him could be key to their promotion hopes in League One as he is their main source of goals.
Therefore, accepting that Smith can leave the club this summer may not be a smart move by the Millers. At the very least, they should fight to keep hold of him to give themselves the best chance of being able to bounce back at the first attempt, as his goal return shows that he could be key to Warne’s hopes of an instant return.
If a Championship club comes in with a mouth-watering offer at that stage which would allow Rotherham to reinvest and strengthen their squad, then that could make more sense for the League One club.