Jed Wallace was an extremely important player for Championship side Millwall last season, scoring 10 league goals in 45 appearances and providing seven assists in a misfiring Championship team.
His tally led Gary Rowett’s side to an 11th-place finish in the league last year, something the Lions wouldn’t have been able to achieve without his major contribution and considering Wallace operates as a winger, his status as the club’s top scorer last season is a very impressive one.
With this tally, he matched his total of the 2019/20 campaign, so this was not a fluke season for the 27-year-old and he’s only likely to get better as he comes into the peak of his career.
Before moving to the Den, he impressed at Portsmouth in his early playing days, earning himself a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2015 where he failed to nail down a starting spot.
He had two loan spells at Millwall during his time at Molineux before moving permanently to south-east London just two years after he joined the now-Premier League side, although it was probably a lucky escape for the winger with Wolves undergoing a huge rebuild with their new, rich owners at the time.
This pretty much brought the curtain down on a short career in the West Midlands – but his move to Millwall was a fresh start after his career stalled – and he has been a useful asset ever since.
As mentioned earlier, Millwall’s front line failed to step up to the plate last season, probably why they have just targeted Stoke City forward Benik Afobe. But they need to make a decision on Wallace this summer to prevent more pain in 12 months.
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That’s the time Wallace has left on his contract at the Den – and despite engaging in negotiations with the 27-year-old – Gary Rowett sounded relaxed when he spoke about the current situation.
Speaking to London News Online, Rowett said: “It is very simple.
“Ideally we want him to stay. We hope he’ll make the difference. Either way he will still be open to contract talks continuing.
“Unless someone puts in a whopping great massive bid – and it would have to be huge – we have got nothing to consider.
“We don’t want to lose Jed. We want him to stay and be the difference, because he has been the difference in the last two years.
“But we have to respect players and the fact that not every player wants to dive in straight away and sign a new contract.
“I’m pretty relaxed on it, and I think Jed is too.”
They might be relaxed, but it does feel as though there needs to be more urgency on this matter. Wallace is a vital player for the Lions, which is why his future needs to be secured before the start of the next campaign to provide certainty.
This current uncertainty will only go on to disrupt their pre-season preparations, so the pair need to sit back down once again and find out what Wallace’s intentions are.
If there’s a considerable chance he may depart next summer, Rowett needs to cash in on him in this window to receive whatever they can for him and then re-invest this revenue generated into a replacement and other positions (if there’s enough money left).
It would be a very painful departure – that’s for sure – but they need to prepare for life without him now if he’s not 100% sure his future lies in south-east London.
Free transfers already done this summer shows good business can be done on the cheap, but a bargain replacement for the 27-year-old may become harder to find as the window goes on.
But if he does want to stay, a contract should be tied up within the next month or two – the club can’t afford to mess about when it comes to their most important player.
So there are two options for the second-tier side and either one needs to be wrapped up and sorted by the August 31st transfer deadline: cash in on their main asset or improve the contract offer further and put a stop to the uncertainty.
The possible alternative is more confusion over his future and a top-quality player leaving for nothing next summer.