Rotherham United want to try and keep Michael Ihiekwe at the club beyond this summer and into next season – but the player has yet to decide on his future and Richie Barker has told The Star the club need a decision soon.
The defender was a first-team regular this season, as the club sealed another promotion back into the Championship. He was a mainstay in their backline and made 42 league appearances, even chipping in with three goals and three assists along the way.
He proved to be arguably one of their most solid players over the course of the campaign – and with the side now eyeing second tier football and trying to prepare for the next campaign, they have been keen to tie him down to a new deal.
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However, there is interest from elsewhere in his services. Derby County, who themselves have just headed in the opposite direction and are now looking towards at least one campaign in League One, have an interest in signing the 29-year-old.
Despite the Millers being able to offer Ihiekwe Championship football if he stays on though, he has yet to commit to the side and agree to the new terms in his fresh contract offer.
That means he could be considering a switch elsewhere and potentially to Pride Park and to the Rams. Now, with the transfer window set to get underway and Rotherham wanting to make signings, assistant manager Richie Barker has told The Star he will try and rush the player for a decision over his future. That means we could see a decision over where he will play next season soon.
It seems though as if they are prepared for the worst from the centre-back.
Speaking about the player, Barker said: “That’s another one where in the next few days we’re going to have to say, ‘Look, mate, if it’s a ‘no’ and you want to explore elsewhere we’re going to have to move on.’
“If we don’t do that we’re going to end up missing out on targets. We are drawing up plans to replace him but would be very pleased if that changed in the next few days.”
Michael Ihiekwe was an extremely solid player for Rotherham last season and was arguably one of their standouts of the entire campaign.
They would no doubt love to have the centre-back playing in the Championship for them and if he did agree to stay on with the Millers, then it would no doubt be a big boost for them. He is familiar with the way that Paul Warne wants to play and has also shown that he could have the capabilities to adapt to a division higher.
However, it seems as if the defender is keeping his options open – which is a surprise when you consider the potential alternative for the 29-year-old. It looks as though Derby are keen to sign him and if that is the other team with an offer on the table for him, you would be surprised to see him opt to stay in the third tier over playing Championship football.
Granted, the Rams are a big club and will be trying to gun for League One promotion next season. With second tier football guaranteed if he stays with Rotherham though, it would be a surprise to see him depart this summer.