• Callum Altimas

PROMOTION OR MONEY: Why Blackburn Rovers Should Resist Temptation and Keep Their Star Players

While the January transfer window is traditionally a time for clubs to strengthen their side with incoming players, the biggest objective for promotion hunting Blackburn Rovers this month should not be bringing players in but stopping players leaving.

With a large portion of the team’s season dominated by talk of the ongoing contract negotiations of key players such as Ben Brereton Diaz, Ryan Nyambe and captain Darragh Lenihan, speculation has been building for a while that Tony Mowbray’s side may be forced to sell some of these men to ensure they get something back for them, as opposed to them walking for free in the summer.

Brereton Diaz and Nyambe have both already been linked to several Premier League clubs and it seems increasingly likely at least one will move on by January’s end, but as Rovers are finally getting things right on the pitch and a return to the Premier League for the first time in a decade is not out of the realms of possibility, the Lancashire side needs to keep hold of everyone of their talented stars and show the fanbase they possess an ambition to return to the big time.

After almost five years at the helm, Mowbray has figured out how to get the best out of his side. With five defenders at the back, Rovers have looked unstoppable over the last couple of months and, that freak 7-0 drubbing against Fulham aside, the defence looks as strong as it ever has. To risk upsetting the apple cart and allowing Nyambe to leave would prove foolish and really further a divide between fans and the club’s owners that has slowly been closing.

The right-back is out of contract in the summer and the two parties are no closer to agreeing a new deal than they were six months ago, but with rumours suggesting Leeds want the Namibian for £3million, it would be wiser for Rovers to hold onto their star and really push on in their promotion aims. The £3million the club risk losing if Nyambe is to leave on a free in a summer is far outweighed by the money they’d miss out on if they sold him now and put a halt in their own playoff race.

Brereton Diaz has been in tremendous form this season and has several Premier League clubs interested in his services. Not since Alan Shearer have the former Premier League champions had a striker bag 20 league goals in such quick fashion, and with talk of teams potentially offering close to £30million for the Chilean, it is easy to see why Rovers, who have struggled financially for several years, would be interested in cashing in. It all comes down to the club’s faith in Mowbray and his side to get the job done and return to England’s top division for the first time since 2012 and with the club having the option to extend the 22-year-old’s contract by 12 months, the reward far outweighs the risk if they were to hold onto him and continue the excellent run they have found themselves on this season.

Rovers have never been this close to a Premier League return in any of the 10 seasons following their relegation and to risk halting any of the momentum they have built by quickly cashing in on any of their talent would send the wrong message to fans and players alike. Whether this is the last six months we will see the likes of Brereton Diaz, Nyambe, Lenihan or Joe Rothwell in the blue and white halves, what better way to go than to give it your all and continue outplaying expectations on route to a potential promotion.