Exclusive: Millwall aim to lure Matt Smith away from Leeds


MILLWALL want to sign Leeds United striker Matt Smith before the start of the new season.

The Lions’s opening bid for the 25-year-old has been rejected but they will try to push through a deal before the big kick-off in August.

Smith has been the name at the top of Ian Holloway’s wishlist since the club’s end-of-season meeting at the start of May.

He scored 13 goals last term – including a looping header over David Forde at Elland Road – and also chalked up six assists.

But with less than 12 months remaining on his contract, Smith may now be sold and his price tag is likely to be within Millwall’s budget.

However, a summer of chaos at Leeds has hampered negotiations.

Since Massimo Cellino’s completed his protracted takeover of the Yorkshire side, the Italian has sacked manager Brian McDermott and dismantled the club’s boardroom structure.

As a result, engaging Leeds in meaningful discussions about Smith has proved extremely difficult.

At the start of the summer there was nobody in place at Elland Road – be it a chief executive or a director of football – who the Lions could approach.

They hoped Cellino would attend the Football League AGM in June so that face-to-face talks could be held, but the former Cagliari chairman failed to show up to the summit in Portugal.

A bid was finally submitted four weeks ago via an advisor of Cellino’s, Graham Bean, but it was turned down and Millwall were informed that Smith is not for sale.

However, Holloway remains unperturbed and is still monitoring the situation closely.

Leeds, who are currently on a pre-season tour of Italy, have raked in £11million from the sale of Scotland international Ross McCormack to Fulham this week.

Cellino is expected to re-invest the proceeds in his forward line and Smith could be forced down the pecking order by new recruits.

But the Lions will have to be patient in their pursuit of the frontman because, if he does become available, that is not likely to happen until next month.

Holloway has lined up more experienced alternatives in case the Smith move flounders.

Talks were held with Bobby Zamora on Tuesday but senior sources at The Den believe a deal for the QPR man is unlikely due to his wage demands.