Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver has revealed the club has turned down bids for forward Luke Armstrong, in an interview with the Harrogate Advertiser.
The 27-year-old became subject to interest from clubs in Scotland, League One and League Two, with scouts present as he scored four goals before the half-time break during a 6-1 pre-season rout over South Shields.
Firm offers have been turned down by the Sulphurites, who will only consider his departure from Wetherby Road if a “significant offer is submitted.”
With their League Two campaign beginning on Saturday, the 45-year-old boss is also reluctant to see his star striker depart on the eve of a new season, and the Englishman will only sanction the move if a replacement can be found.
Armstrong signed for the North Yorkshire side in the summer of 2021, joining in an undisclosed fee from fellow fourth-tier outfit Salford City.
He ended the season as the club’s leading goal scorer after netting 14 times in his inaugural season at The EnviroVent Stadium, before enjoying an even more impressive period last term, firing home on 16 occasions to help Harrogate to a 19th place finish.
The football club also feel they are under no financial pressure to sell, as the Durham-born forward has two years left on his contract, after signing an extension until the summer of 2025, which could present a key stumbling block to sides looking to acquire his services.
Weaver expects Armstrong to line-up in black and yellow for his side’s opening league fixture away at Doncaster Rovers.
What’s been said?
“There was a bit of interest last week, a couple of tentative enquiries, and they have been followed up this week which isn’t ideal, given that the season starts on Saturday and we are towards the end of the transfer window,” Weaver said.
The manager, who has been in charge of Harrogate since 2009, continued: “There’s a League Two club interested and a couple from League One as well. Bids have been made but we have turned them down.
“We love Luke and we don’t want to lose him, I’ve made that very clear to him. Luke would only be allowed to go if someone offers a significant fee and if we can get a replacement lined up.
“But, I want to be clear, there’s no desire or any urgency from us to do a big-money deal just to get cash in. We’re not in a position where we need to do that, and as I say, we think so much of Luke, we want him here at Harrogate Town.”
On Armstrong’s reaction to being informed of the interest, Weaver added: “I am always transparent with players if there are bids made for them and I’ve told Luke about the interest, but of course I have also told him how much we want him to stay here.
“When I spoke to Luke he said to me that because he is 27, if a big club comes in with the right offer, then it’s something he might be interested in considering because he’s unlikely to get the same kind of opportunity when he’s 30.
“And I completely understand what he is saying, but at the same time, he understands that he still has two years left on his contract here and how important he is to us.
“He has been good as gold since I informed him of the interest and has continued to work his socks off in training as he always does and as I would fully expect him to do.”
At the age of 27, this could represent Armstrong’s last opportunity to test himself at a higher level, having not played third-tier football since the 2018/19 season, so if there was a suitable offer on the table, you could understand his desire to explore that.
However, Harrogate will be desperate not to sell the key figurehead at the top of the pitch, with many, including ourselves at The Real EFL, having them as the favourites for relegation already. The club clearly feel they hold the power in this situation with two years remaining on his current deal, and Simon Weaver will be desperate not to see his preparations scuppered ahead of the upcoming season.