BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Gary Rowett has no issue with not spending a transfer fee in his first 12 months at Millwall – and reckons there is just as good value for money in the loan market.
The Lions completed a temporary deal for West Brom striker Kenneth Zohore before last Friday’s deadline.
And that has swelled the amount of current loans to four – with the others being Ryan Woods, Troy Parrott and Scott Malone.
Millwall did manage to haggle Derby down from their demands to take Mason Bennett on a permanent basis – with the switch only an earner for the Rams if the young attacker plays regular football.
Malone, who signed up for a second spell with the Lions, will be out of contract at the end of June.
The Lions had bids accepted for Kieffer Moore and Jamal Lowe but they opted for Cardiff City and Swansea respectively.
“Certainly John [Berylson] would’ve backed me in the market had we needed to pay a transfer fee,” said Rowett. “But I’ve been in the Championship a while now; let’s say for example that someone like Scott Malone, we’ve not paid a massive amount for a loan deal for him, yet if we can get him playing at the level I know he can play to then he’s almost a £2-3million signing.
“So I don’t think there is that much difference between an inexpensive loan and paying £2-3m. All it does is that you can do it within the parameters we work.
“I think that will always be the case at Millwall. I don’t think we’ll ever try and outreach where we think we should be financially.
“And also don’t forget if you’re bringing people permanently on big wages you are setting the bar for all the other players – and you have to maybe start pushing other players to that level.
“We’ve had a very sensible window, but nevertheless a very good one. Hopefully we’ll see the fruits of that – bringing two top-quality strikers with other very good players to support that.”
Parrott, 18, has played just 45 minutes of football since arriving from Tottenham.
A quad injury ruled him out just before the 2020-21 campaign kicked off and then he damaged ankle ligaments in his debut against Burnley in the EFL Cup.
Parrott is not that far away from a return, but his absence heightened the urgency to add another forward to the Millwall mix.
“If Troy had been in the team, firing and scoring goals then it might have been a slightly different debate,” said Rowett.
“I just felt as though with the couple of injuries he’s had, it felt worth adding another player – if we could get the right type.
“What I like is we’ve got different types of strikers. We’re not able to go out and find the perfect Premier League player, so we have to find ones with specific skillsets we feel can help the team.
“It’s not just the strikers, but we were short of goals last season. It’s not just goals on the pitch, it’s goals off the bench, impact, competition for places – being able to rotate and manoeuvre the team.”
Zohore had been linked with Sheffield Wednesday but the Owls only opted to sign Derby’s Jack Marriott instead. The 26-year-old Danish international drove down to Millwall’s Calmont Road training base on Friday afternoon to pen terms until January 16.
“We had an interest in a couple of strikers out there and it was quite ironic that they both seemed to be going to the same team,” said Rowett. “I felt that might not happen. Usually everyone goes in for everybody – knowing that they probably only want one.
“I felt there was an opportunity started to develop on Thursday afternoon that we could get Kenneth and also a chance it would come down to our levels financially.
“John certainly had to stretch to try and do it for us. But it wasn’t at the levels it was originally going to be – which would have ruled us out of all the deals.
“When he came available I had a good conversation with Ken on Friday morning – because it was very important he wanted to come to Millwall and play at a club likes ours.
“As we know it is a very unique club and you’ve got to want to be here and commit entirely.
“He was really committed in that call. He just wants to start enjoying his football again and scoring goals.”
Zohore scored 24 goals for Cardiff before a move to the Baggies in July 2019 for a reported £8m.
“He’s big, strong powerful and also very quick,” said Rowett. “He scores goals off both feet. He just adds a different type of threat, particularly on the counter attack and certain types of games.
“He can play in all games but specifically in certain games where we need to create chances out of nothing – create them ourselves rather than having to play great football or be a set-piece threat.
“We were really happy with the window. It’s even little things, like keeping Woodsy – which I felt was really, really important – and re-signing Mason permanently; particularly the deal we managed to do in the end.
“Those two don’t necessarily make the team better, because they were here last year, but it maintains that squad quality for years to come.
“It’s always a challenge when you finish eighth. If we’d finished 14th everyone would say we’ve climbed the table and done a decent job stabilising – there’s less expectation. When you finish eighth everyone half expects you to be pushing for promotion next season.
“We’ve raised the bar a little bit and it was important we raised the quality and competition in the group as well.”
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