Richie Smallwood leaves lasting memories as he rejects new deal at Rotherham

It took him three weeks, but Richie Smallwood has eventually decided his future lies away from Rotherham.

The 26-year-old midfielder has rejected a new contract at Rotherham and will walk away on a free transfer, possibly to Scunthorpe.

It brings an end to an impressive three and a half years at New York Stadium, where he has been a key player in the club’s promotion to League One and three years in the Championship, and comes after he initially expressed his desire to stay.

However, despite the club insisting they presented him with a “very good deal”, Smallwood did obviously not find it compulsive enough to put pen to paper.

 

A club statement read: “The Millers have been involved in negotiations with the former Middlesbrough man and his representatives since the final game of the 2016-17 season, but have failed to agree terms with the 26-year-old, who will depart following the expiration of his current deal.

“Everyone at Rotherham United would like to thank Richie for his commitment during his time with the club and look forward to giving him a warm welcome should his future endeavours see him return to AESSEAL New York Stadium.”

That could well be next season if a potential move to the Iron develops, one which would leave the Millers fans with a strong sense of déjà vu.

They were mourning what they thought was the end of his Rotherham career when Alan Stubbs sent him to Glanford Park on a season-long loan in August, only for him to be recalled by Paul Warne.

 

It took a while to curry favour with the new boss upon his January return but his late-season performances were up there with anything he had produced in a red and white shirt.

Despite that strong finish, there is a sense that Warne and his coaching team won’t be going to bed crying over Smallwood’s imminent exit – as the stalemate in negotiations suggests.

Warne is keen to build his own team and bring his own players in, though whether he will be able to find someone who does the dirty work as well as Smallwood for the same money remains to be seen.

Whatever happens, Smallwood leaves having made a lasting impression with the Millers, from his decisive penalty in the shootout at Wembley to his spectacular volley at MK Dons and hundreds of tackles and interceptions in between.

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