Rotherham United: ‘Semi Ajayi would leave with my love’ – Paul Warne resigned to potential departure of standout performer
Rotherham United manager Paul Warne is resigned to potentially losing Semi Ajayi in the summer.
The 25-year-old has been one of standout players for the Millers this season, with his form earning him international recognition with Nigeria.
He has proved himself capable of cutting it at the Championship in either a central defence role or a as a sitting midfielder and is the Millers' top scorer so far with eight goals.
With Warne's side needing a miracle to avoid dropping into League One next season, Ajayi, who is out of contract in 2020, is one player that could be cherry-picked by other clubs.
And Warne knows the club could be powerless to stop it.
“Unless you are the richest club in the world, you are always potentially going to have your best players moving on,” he said.
“This isn't being disrespectful to any Rotherham fans, but you can't expect the best players to stay here forever. If they are that good and they are performing to a level, they will move on.
“Look at Chelsea — they can't keep hold of Eden Hazard. If Semi bangs in 10 goals from midfield, plays for his country and three clubs want him, we won't be able to hold on to him. I'm not trying to be depressing. It's just a fact.”
Warne is a big fan of Ajayi, having brought him to the club in the first few months of his tenure in the dugout.
He has played a massive role over the last two seasons, starting every game this season, the boss would be happy to see his career flourish.
“Obviously I don't want Semi to leave,” Warne said. “But if I took off my manager's hat and looked it at from a personal point of view, do I want him to go on and play as high as he can and have the best life he can? Of course I do.
“That's why our recruitment is key. You have to bring in other players, and hopefully the fans believe in what we're trying to do. If players do move on for sizeable fees and we can reinvest the money ... well, that's just how football is.
“I'd like Semi to finish his job here first. If it works for both parties that he then moves on, he goes with my love.”
The Millers are back in action on Saturday as they visit West Brom, where their relegation could be sealed.