Millwall can find more value in pandemic-hit free market that contains ‘best passer’ boss has seen

MILLWALL can “find value” in the free transfer market this summer – with boss Gary Rowett pointing out that Scott Malone could have cost up to £1million if he had been under contract. 

Malone, 30, has Premier League as well as an abundance of Championship experience and will officially join on a free from Derby on July 1, when another free agent, goalkeeper George Long, will also complete his switch from Hull.

The Lions have had success with free agents in recent seasons. Players such as Tony Craig, Steve Morison, Shaun Hutchinson and Alex Pearce joined Millwall after their contracts ran out at other clubs.

There are currently over 100 Championship players set to be out of contract on July 1, including players of the quality of Jack Wilshere, Britt Assombalonga and Emiliano Marcondes.

Malone recently highlighted the example of Tom Huddlestone, the former England international who has been without a club for almost a year.

Championship clubs could be forced to trim their squads more ruthlessly in 2021-22 as they are under added financial pressure after more than a season without gate income.

That will mean a larger pool of free agents than normal on July 1.

“I think there’s always going to be value for Millwall [in the free transfer market] because we’re the type of club that have to seek that value,” Rowett said.

“You look at someone like Scott Malone who wasn’t necessarily in Derby’s plans. We take him and he has as good a season as anyone in the Championship in that position and then we sign him on a free transfer.

“After last season if we had had to pay half a million, a million pounds for someone like Scott Malone I don’t think anyone would have batted an eyelid based on his performances.

“So we always have to try to find that value and those players.

“But at the same time we have to try to aspire to bring in the right type of player that can get us into the top six as well, which sometimes might be someone we have to spend more money on, it might be a young player.

“There are always different types of things we have to do.

“There are going to be a lot more players out of contract this year, a lot more players not getting the wages they were on last season.

“Tom Huddlestone is a classic example of that. I had him at Derby, signed him for Derby. He’s probably the best passer of a ball I’ve ever worked with. So to find someone like that not under contract shows how much the pandemic has affected the market.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly