GARY Rowett has revealed just how close Millwall’s pursuit of Kenneth Zohore went to the transfer deadline – as he feared missing out on signing the striker.
Rowett said Millwall waited most of last week to see which centre-forward from an identified shortlist would become available.
An unrevealed club had agreed a deal with West Brom for Zohore, but decided to go for a different target.
It meant that it was not until Thursday evening – just hours before Friday’s 5pm cut-off for agreeing terms with the club and player as well as processing all the relevant paperwork – that Rowett knew that a deal for Zohore was a real possibility.
Rowett then spoke to Zohore on Friday morning.
“For three or four days we knew there were two or three really good quality strikers that would probably move this window on loan. Ken was one of those,” Rowett explained to NewsAtDen.
“If I’m being honest I didn’t think we’d get him. I knew there was another club in for him that had supposedly agreed a deal.
“It was quite interesting because at some point agents were saying that club were in for all of [the strikers]. We knew they weren’t going to get all of them so it was about waiting to see which one dropped first for us.
“We started getting a little bit of encouragement Thursday evening. The main bit for me was I spoke to Kenneth Friday morning just to see whether he was completely keen on coming to Millwall, which is always really important for us.
“When he heard how we plan to play him and how we think we can help him get himself going again then he was really keen to come.
“He’s mainly a central striker, he’s played there all his career, he’s a no. 9. I’m sure he’s got the flexibility to play across a front three, but predominantly he will play centrally in whatever system we use.”
Zohore – who made his Lions debut as a substitute in the 2-0 win against Luton on Tuesday – will rival Matt Smith and Tom Bradshaw for the central striker role. Smith set up both of Millwall’s goals against Wycombe last Saturday a day after Zohore joined, and his header was diverted in by Martin Cranie for the Lions’ first against the Hatters.
Rowett said the signing of Zohore didn’t act as extra motivation for Smith, because he has been doing the business for Millwall anyway when he has played.
Rowett said: “Ultimately, Matt’s played pretty well every time we’ve called upon him and when he’s got the shirt.
“He’s affected games and at what he does he’s one of the best around. I don’t think that performance [against Wycombe] was purely because we’d signed another player. Matt’s an experienced player and I think he’d do that anyway.”
Image: Millwall FC