Paul Warne has placed a £5 million price on the head of Danny Ward as Rotherham United fend off growing interest in their star striker.
Reports of a £2 million offer for the 10-goal hitman were dismissed by caretaker manager Warne, who revealed that three clubs had tabled bids below that figure.
The interim boss believes Ward’s true value is much higher and won’t sell the 26-year-old in the January transfer window unless big money is put on the table.
“I spoke to Danny this morning,” said Warne, whose bottom-placed side travel to Championship leaders Newcastle United on Saturday. “I said to his face: ‘If you can leave my office and come back with anyone under £5m who you think is better than you, please do and I’ll sell you for the same figure.’
“As of yet, he hasn’t been back to me.”
Ward’s Championship admirers include former club Huddersfield Town, QPR, Ipswich Town, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield Wednesday, Cardiff City and Derby County.
“I am aware that three clubs have put proper bids in and I’m aware that all three have been turned down,” Warne said,
“If a £2m bid had come in, it’s nowhere near enough. It would be rejected.
“If anyone can tell me of a £2m striker I could get in who would come here and play the way Danny does, they’re better at football than I am.
“I said it to Wardy, if an offer doesn’t come in that myself, the chairman and everybody on the board think is a proper offer, then he will be here to the end of the season.”
Part of any fee would go to the Terriers, the club who allowed the centre-forward to join Rotherham in January 2015.
“Huddersfield do have a sell-on clause,” Warne confirmed. “I’m not allowed to say what it is. We got him on a free transfer, which was obviously good business for the club.”
Ward, who faces a battle to be fit for the Magpies clash because of a back injury, is out of contract in the summer.
But the Millers have an option to extend his deal by a further 12 months, which leaves them in a powerful negotiating position now and at the end of the season.
If Ward does stay beyond January, the Millers will trigger the extension so they can still demand a substantial fee when their second-tier campaign is over.
“He’s a great bloke. He just wants to play football,” Warne added. “I understand he is very close to a big opportunity in his life and that if doesn’t happen he might be a little bit disappointed.
“If you’re a Rotherham fan and you think that’s wrong, I disagree. He’s entitled to want to do the best thing for his family. However, if it doesn’t come through and we don’t think it is right, he is happy to play to the end of the season.
“I’m not stupid enough to let him walk out of here on out on a free transfer. We would invoke the extra year and then in the summer he’ll have a better opportunity to see if there are opportunities out there.
“Or his contract might change and we might give him a better deal and he might want to stay here. Unless a substantial pot of cash comes in for him, he isn’t going anywhere and he’ll be our player and hopefully a positive influence on us trying to stay up.”
Rotherham remain interested in Leeds United midfielder Toumani Diagoura as they look to bring in up to three more new faces before the window closes a week on Tuesday.
One of Warne’s priorities is a “utility player across the backline”.
New goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell, who joined from Bristol City on a two-and-a-half-year deal today, goes straight into the squad to face Newcastle, and forgotten man midfielder Scott Allan will also be included.
Centre-half Kirk Broadfoot is described as a “severe doubt” by Warne because of a back complaint being scanned this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Warne is delighted with the capture of Sheffield-born O’Donnell, the club’s first January arrival.
“I am happy,” he said. “We tried to sign him a year and a half ago when he went to Wigan. We knew he was the best goalkeeper in League One then.
“With the unfortunate circumstances with Campy (Lee Camp, out injured for the rest of the season), we need to someone in to compete with Pricey (Lewis Price).
“It’s always better to make signings than loan signings and, going forward, I think he will be good.
“He’s a good size. He is a commanding keeper. He is everything I want. He lives locally, so it is an ideal fit.”