Rotherham United are hoping new boy Semi Ajayi will give them plenty to shout about in League One next season.
The centre-half has signed a three-year permanent deal after impressing for the Championship club since joining them on loan from Cardiff City in the January transfer window.
The Millers are poised for relegation and see Ajayi as a key figure in their bid to regain their second-tier status next term ... as long as they can get the 23-year-old to raise his voice more.
“Semi has done well but we are all working hard with him so he keeps improving,” said caretaker manager Paul Warne, who could be confirmed as full-time boss next week. “The staff are trying to get him to be more vocal, and he is coming along well with that side of his game.”
Ajayi arrived at New York Stadium having never made a first-team appearance for the Bluebirds. Despite his lack of experience, in his nine games with Rotherham he has shown the pace and power that Warne wants to make a feature of his team.
“He is at a good age. He fits into the type of players that we are looking to sign here,” the interim boss said.
“He is athletic, quick and he has fitted well into the group. He has proved he can compete at Championship level, so he will be a great permanent addition. We are delighted to have him on board for the future. He’s a great kid and all the staff really like him.
“We have challenged him now to end this current campaign on a high and try to take that into pre-season. The club will have a full pre-season to work with him, which will only help his development, and we look forward to seeing him progress.”
Other clubs had shown interest in Ajayi, but the central defender has enjoyed working under Warne and was keen to stay.
The former Arsenal youngster, whose only previous senior games had come in loan spells with AFC Wimbledon and Crewe Alexandra, would have been out of contract at Cardiff, managed by ex-Millers boss Neil Warnock, in the summer. Rotherham say he has arrived for an undisclosed fee.
He has made costly mistakes in his last two outings, leading to goals for Wolves and QPR respectively, but has otherwise been one the club’s stand-out performers.
“He has really impressed us around the training ground with his attitude,” Warne said. “He always wants to play, even when he has been sore after games.
“He’s always ready to go again for the club. That is the kind of mentality that we want here. I think you can really judge someone’s character from their desire to go through the pain barrier for the team.”
Ajayi tweeted: “So pleased to have joined Rotherham permanently until 2020. Very excited for the future. Hard work continues now.”
He is the second young loanee to commit his future to the Millers, following the capture on a two-year deal of Swansea City winger Alex Bray, 21, earlier this month.
Rotherham, whose reserve side lost 1-0 at Grimsby Town this afternoon, return to action after the international break at home to Fulham on Saturday when even a win could see them go down, depending on results elsewhere.
Striker Jonson Clarke-Harris continued his comeback from injury by playing for 74 minutes.