BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Scott Malone looks set to be one of the first deals done by Millwall in the summer transfer window – with manager Gary Rowett revealing the Derby loanee has verbally agreed a contract.
The 30-year-old is due to be a free agent at the start of June.
But Millwall have been in talks for a number of weeks with attacking full-back Malone, who netted his sixth goal of the campaign in last weekend’s 4-1 win over Bristol City.
Asked about progress on negotiations, Rowett said: “We’re pretty close. As close as you can be without actually having a signed contract in hand.
“I think it is more or less verbally agreed but we’ll try and formalise that. We’re working in a world that until something is done, it’s not done.
“But the intention from all parties has always been for Scottie to stay, because he is enjoying his football. He knows we value him as a person and what he brings to the pitch.
“He has had a great season, in terms of playing with that freedom and confidence. Like with any attacking wing-back, you need to let him go and join in the attacks.”
Malone’s return to SE16 was not met with universal approval by the club’s fanbase.
But the former Fulham, Cardiff and Bournemouth defender has got his career back on track at the Den outfit.
Malone has made 40 Championship starts, 22 more than he managed in the previous season at Derby.
“I worked with Scottie at Burton when he was 19 and even then he was just a good footballer,” said Rowett.
“Sometimes with good footballers you have just got to give them a little bit of structure off the ball and let them find their own solution in the final third. He plays little passes you can’t really coach.
“He has that little bit of quality with his final decision and final pass, the same with the finishing side.
“I think he had a similar season at Fulham where he was playing in a back four, but in the Championship that was almost like being a wing-back at times because they were so often high up the pitch.
“People don’t appreciate that every single game he is one of the highest, if not the highest, in terms of the distances he runs and his sprint volumes.
“He adds athleticism and running to his quality. Even at his age he is still churning out performance after performance physically.
“He’s been excellent for us, hence why we’ve tried hard to tie him down for longer.”
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