Diouf determined to win relegation battle with Doncaster Rovers

El Hadji Diouf has taken over the number ten shirt vacated by Billy Sharp after signing an extended deal with Rovers. Picture: Steve Uttley

El Hadji Diouf has taken over the number ten shirt vacated by Billy Sharp after signing an extended deal with Rovers. Picture: Steve Uttley

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EL Hadji Diouf says he could not have left Rovers while they were still in danger of relegation

The Senegalese striker penned a new deal yesterday to remain at the Keepmoat until the end of the season when he hopes to have helped a successful battle against the drop.

Diouf signs his new deal under the watchful eye of Rovers chief executive Dave Morris. Picture: Steve Uttley.

Diouf signs his new deal under the watchful eye of Rovers chief executive Dave Morris. Picture: Steve Uttley.

He said: “I don’t want to leave this football club until it is away from the bottom.

“I’m going to do everything and work hard to set this club up for next season.

“It’s one of the hardest challenges I’ve faced but I think we can make it.”

Diouf’s new deal contains the option of a further year and he insists he will be keen to take that up should Rovers remain in the Championship and pursue Premier League ambitions.

He said: “If we stay up this season before I sign next season I’m going to say to the club I’m not here for a joke.

“I know Willie McKay and everyone at the club is excited to see Doncaster Rovers in the Premier League.

“If we stay in the Championship we’re going to everything next season to be in the top six.”

Another driving force behind the 31-year-old’s decision to remain in Doncaster is happiness.

He said: “Playing football is the same everywhere – you have to be happy first of all.

“I’m a happy person, so why not stay here?

“If you see me out on the pitch I’m enjoying playing my football, I like what we’re doing.

“The fans from here like me also and why not stay

“I’m still young, I’m only 31 so why not win this challenge first and next season is another challenge.”

Boss Dean Saunders stepped up his attempts to keep Diouf at Rovers following the departure of Billy Sharp to Southampton on Monday.

The importance of the deal was signalled by Diouf being handed the number ten shirt vacated by Sharp, switching from 19 after signing his new contract.

It is understood Diouf turned down alternative offers from at least two other clubs last weekend before agreeing to stay with Rovers.

Defender Habib Beye – currently serving a three match suspension following his dismissal at Bristol City – is expected to sign a similar deal to Diouf’s before the weekend.