In signing George Long and Scott Malone on free transfers, Millwall’s start to the summer has been a shrewd one.
Likewise, the departure of Hayden Muller on loan to SPFL side St Johnstone, which is understood to be close, appears a smart one with the teenager’s long-term future in mind.
But come the end of the season, those moves could well pale in comparison to one that the south London club are reportedly lining up right now.
The Express reported yesterday that Millwall are amongst the clubs interested in taking Manchester City striker Liam Delap on loan for the 2021/22 campaign.
A string of Championship teams have been linked with Delap, including Derby County and West Bromwich Albion, as the Premier League champions weigh up whether to send him out on loan and where the ideal destination would be – a decision it is said might not be made until midway through pre-season.
Put quite simply, Millwall need to ensure that they beat out the likes of Derby and Albion in the race for Delap because he could be the missing piece that helps them close the gap on the top six.
The 18-year-old has excelled at youth level – winning the Premier League 2 Player of the Season award last term after scoring 24 times in 20 games.
His senior debut brought with it a first goal as well, coming in a 2-1 win over Bournemouth, while the amount of interest from second tier clubs is an indication of just how highly rated Delap is.
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Under Gary Rowett, the Lions have finished 8th and 11th in the Championship – impressive given they narrowly avoided relegation in the season before his arrival but closing the gap on the top six is going to require them to solve their striking issue.
The lack of a consistent number nine has been a problem for Millwall over the past few seasons but was a particularly frustrating one in 2020/21.
Last term, none of Rowett’s strikers scored more than five goals while the Lions were outscored by every side above them in the table.
Millwall struggled to find the killer blow in games time and time again – finishing with a division-high 17 draws – and adding a hungry, young forward that has proven himself lethal in front of goal could be the difference between one point and three in those sort of matches next season.
There’s a lot to like about Rowett’s squad but landing Delap could be the difference between another high mid-table finish and a real shot at the play-offs. It has to be Millwall’s top priority this summer.