Blackburn Rovers Steve Waggott CEO has revealed the club offered former star Adam Armstrong a bumper deal to remain with at Ewood Park before his departure to Southampton last month, speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph.
24-year-old Armstrong was a key player in attack for the second-tier side last term alongside Ben Brereton Diaz and former Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott, scoring an impressive 28 goals in 40 Championship appearances and arguably helping to keep Tony Mowbray’s side away from relegation danger with his potency up top.
However, he was coming into the final year of his contract at the club in pre-season this year amid summer interest from Premier League quartet Southampton, Norwich City, Crystal Palace and Watford, with Rovers holding firm against the latter’s approach despite a potential swap deal including Andre Gray.
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After missing out on Blackburn’s opening league game of the 2021/22 campaign due to the speculation surrounding him, he finally secured a move to Southampton in a £15m deal, although former club Newcastle United recouped 40% of this fee due to the sell-on clause they negotiated when they sold the forward to Blackburn permanently in August 2018.
In an attempt to keep him at the club amid a then-very slow transfer market, CEO Steve Waggott revealed he made a last-ditch attempt to tie the 24-year-old down to a long-term deal, saying to the Lancashire Telegraph: “We offered him a quite unbelievable contract to keep him as our top player, top goalscorer.
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“We offered him a high contract, way above our normal level because of his value to the club, but Adam is ambitious, he wanted to go to the Premier League, with us if he could take us there, but that didn’t happen in the period that he was with us.
“I called it as him being in the departure lounge, he wanted to go, then it just a matter of the clubs coming in and we just had to commercialise it at the right level.
“I think it was a big no (to a new deal). He didn’t accept the contract, he wanted to go, he’s a great lad Adam, I’ve known him and his family for many years, and once they want to move it’s difficult to keep hold of a player because, not that he did it, but some players get demotivated and frustrated.”
Considering how little activity there was in the transfer market up until the final few days of August, it’s no surprise Blackburn were desperate to retain their key man, and the fact they didn’t manage to get a striker over the line just goes to show what they feared which was not being able to bring in a replacement.
How can you replace a man of Adam Armstrong’s goalscoring prowess? His presence in the second-tier outfit’s side would have been even more important this term with Harvey Elliott’s return to Liverpool, so their decision to offer him a much-improved contract was justified.
The teenager may not have scored as many goals as Armstrong did during his time at Ewood Park, but he still recorded 18 goal contributions in the league last season and was a vital component of Tony Mowbray’s side and the 24-year-old’s goals may have pushed Rovers higher up the table.
In fairness, they have made a solid start to the season but if they record a much-improved finish in the top half of the table at the end of much and just miss out on the play-offs, it would make you wonder whether he would’ve led them to a top-six finish.
Looking on the brighter side for Blackburn though, they did manage to secure a £15m deal for his services, an impressive total with less than 12 months left on his contract at Ewood Park despite the interest from elsewhere.