MILLWALL have got very decent returns after re-signing ex-players in the last decade-and-a-half.
Neil Harris won promotion to League One and went on to become the club’s all-time top goal-scorer after re-joining from Nottingham Forest in 2007.
Steve Morison and Tony Craig couldn’t resist the lure of SE16 in 2015 – their second and third returns – with the former scoring the winner in the 2017 League One play-off final and the latter lifting the trophy.
And though Tim Cahill didn’t have quite the same impact on the pitch when he linked up with the Lions again in January 2018, he certainly added a spark around the changing room and in the stands as Harris’ side went within touching distance of the Championship play-offs.
Those four players were in their 30s and past their peaks when they re-joined, but George Saville arguably has his best days in front of him.
Saville only turned 28 in June and was one of Middlesbrough’s best players last season, their second top-scorer with six goals.
The former Wolves man netted 10 times in that 2017-18 season before moving to The Riverside for £8million.
But returning to a former club often doesn’t work out for players, as they can’t match their previous exploits. Gareth Bale at Tottenham and Andy Carroll at Newcastle are two recent examples, and after leaving those clubs again this summer they are unlikely to be back.
That was one of the themes of the conversation Gary Rowett had with Saville before signing the player from Boro this summer.
“When I first met Sav I said to him, look, forget the coming back scenario that everyone wants to speculate on, how romantic it is to come back and how lovely it is,” Rowett said.
“I said, in my opinion, in some ways that makes it a harder decision because you don’t want it to be easy. He said, ‘I wouldn’t be coming back to the club if I didn’t feel the club were ambitious. I’ve seen how the club have moved forward in the last few years. I’ve seen the consistency of the group and seen how good the squad is.’
“It was more around that, really. If it’s just an easy fit when you’re coming back, as a manager that’s an even more difficult question because you don’t want anything to be easy.
“Having sat down with Sav and having spoken to him, as a character it became pretty clear that his mindset and his mentality is – while he understands the club and really enjoyed being here previously – he’d only consider that if it was right for his career and what he wants to do as a player as well.
“We seemed to be pretty aligned on that.”
Millwall have been linked with moves for attacking midfielders this summer – including Sheffield Wednesday’s Josh Windass – and Saville has been signed to add goals.
But the club are still monitoring the market for more attackers.
Rowett said: “We’ve certainly brought Sav in as an attacking midfielder with his goals record. That doesn’t mean to say we won’t be looking for another attacking player. But what type of player that is I’ll keep to myself.
“We were looking at different positions, we looked at different types of players and we’ve got those players in.
“It’s now can we be patient and see if there’s someone out there who can give us a little bit of something extra if the time is right.
“But of course we know that in order to do that we probably need one or two to go out in the opposite direction to free some funds up.
“We’re pretty cool with where we are at the moment and there’s certainly no rush to do anything.”
Image: Millwall FC