Hours after securing their second signing of the 2022-23 Summer Window, Rovers decided to make Sammie Szmodics their third addition of the campaign, after the club announced that the attacking midfielder would put pen-to-paper on a three-year-deal at Ewood Park, for a reported fee of up to £2.5m, with the club holding the option to add an extra 12 months.
The talented 26-year-old joins Rovers from recently-relegated Peterborough United and fills an energetic void in midfield left by those who departed the club over the summer.
Szmodics spent most of his career with hometown club, Colchester United, where he netted 38 goals in 162 appearances for the Blue and White striped side, finishing as the side’s top scorer in successive seasons, as well as the U’s 2015 Young Player of the Year, before deciding to depart his local side for a chance at plying his trade in the Championship with Bristol City.
Although Bristol City paid a reported £720k for the playmaker, he was barely utilised at Ashton Gate during his first six months in the West Country, which saw him force a loan move away in-search of first-team football. That desire to play regularly saw him fall into the lap of Darragh MacAnthony and Peterborough United who snapped up the midfielder on a loan until the end of the campaign. He proved to be a hit with the Posh, as he netted four goals and collected four assists in the 10 games that he played in League One for Posh during the second-half of the 2019-20 season, which eventually forced them into making Szmodics a permanent Posh player over the summer, for a reported fee of £1m.
That addition and outlay paid off for the London Road side, as courtesy of Szmodics’ contributions of 15 goals and eight assists in 40 league games, the Posh found themselves back in the Second Tier of English football for the first time since 2012-13, after they finished in 2nd place.
Whilst Peterborough and Szmodics found the Championship a bit more difficult, the energetic midfielder did manage to claim a feather in his cap, by netting the first goal, against his future employers in Posh’s 2-1 win over Rovers in April, but he was unable to help Peterborough United produce a great escape and avoid relegation, finishing the season with six goals and one assist from 36 games.
Despite playing 79 minutes for Posh in their opening game of this campaign – a 3-2 win over Cheltenham Town – Szmodics couldn’t wait to get his move to Ewood Park and after agreeing on his future with Rovers, the Republic of Ireland international – who was capped in May 2021 – beamed at the prospect of testing himself in the Championship again, with a team packed with history and tradition as Rovers are.
“I’m over the moon and it’s something that’s been in the pipeline for a while now. I’ve driven up today, we’ve got everything finalised and I’m really looking forward to getting started. It’s been a case of the deal happening and then not happening, but we got the call last night saying everything had been finalised.
“It’s a massive club. I played against Rovers twice last season for Peterborough and played at Ewood Park. This is a fantastic club with a fantastic fanbase, it’s something that any player would want to be a part of. Once I heard of the interest, I was desperate to get the deal done due to the history of the club, the size of the club and the fanbase. It was something that I could not turn down. If you ask any player, they know about Blackburn Rovers and the history of the club.”
Rovers’ Director of Football, Gregg Broughton and Head Coach, Jon Dahl Tomasson also expressed their delight at getting Szmodics over the line.
Broughton: “We identified that we needed to add both athleticism and another goal threat to the squad, and Sammie gives us both of these qualities. When he was played centrally for the final 10 Championship games of last season, we saw Sammie recreate his form from League One, with four goals and an assist, along with both the creative and physical metrics of an attacking midfielder who will add a different dimension to our group.
“As importantly, we know what Sammie will bring as a character and how easily he will fit into the great team spirit and mentality of our players.”
Tomasson: “He’s very intense with the ball and is very used to that. He’s clever without the ball, he plays with few touches, he makes the right choices and also has Championship minutes from last season. He scored a lot of goals in League One and he’s a boy with a little bit more experience than a lot of our squad.
“He’s doing a good job in training with the boys and is helping them. It’s been great to see the team spirit amongst the lads and the new faces. He suits us very well to our principles and he’s flexible in terms of his positions, as footballers should be. He can move around, find the spaces he needs to find and our front players have to be very flexible in their movements.”