When any season ends, it’s always expected to see incoming transfers as clubs plan to improve on their performance of the previous season. With new players coming in, few players will also leave, with those who are surplus to requirements shown the exit door and search for first team football elsewhere. At least with out goings, this is the ideal outcome, however when you’re a club in the lower divisions of the football pyramid, at times you’re unable to keep hold of your key players on the back of a good season for that individual. If the player is grabbing the headlines for their performances on a consistent basis, the transfer rumours inevitably soon follow.
In the case of top goal scorer Lee Gregory, like others Gregory is rumoured to be attracting interest of clubs in a higher division, with the likes of Brighton, QPR, Sheffield Wednesday, and even Scottish champions Celtic supposedly interested in the front man. Rumoured to be interested is a statement which can’t be taken as concrete evidence of an intent to sign a player, however it does support the idea that clubs are monitoring the situation of a player. Who wouldn’t choose to monitor Lee Gregory, on the back of a season where he had scored 26 goals for the club, and spearheaded our push for promotion to The Championship, Gregory has managed to replicate the form that earned his move to Millwall when with conference side Halifax Town.
When originally signed by previous manager Ian Holloway, we was promised a striker who would score the goals and make us a force in The Championship, unfortunately this never materialised in the manner Holloway had promised, and after few clear cut misses in a side that was struggling, Gregory was subject to a scapegoat status by many in the stands. Ever since signing for the club, the comparisons to legend and now manager Neil Harris were never too far away for Gregory, and after Holloway’s dismissal the best outcome proved to be the appointment of Harris as manager. Scoring four goals in Harris’ short interim spell, Harris clearly understood what Gregory is all about, and how to get the best out of the forward going forward.
The most noticeable change was the return to a “Millwall style of play”, a quote from Harris which was promised when appointed full time manager. Playing a 4-4-2 formation, Gregory was afforded a partner to play with up-front, something which he had and was most effective during his time with Halifax Town. Not only did Harris share a similar story to Gregory, but a further summer addition with Steve Morison joining, presented the opportunity for another ex-conference, experienced forward to partner and mentor Gregory going into the new campaign.
Morison was another forward who had his best spell with the club in a 4-4-2 formation, Morison’s most prolific season for the club was in a front line pairing with now manager Harris, and I personally believe the opportunity to bring Morison back was a no brainer. The pair immediately formed an understanding up front, and together contributed 46 goals for the side.
So how much is Lee Gregory worth to Millwall? What would be the price that would force our hand and relinquish one of our most valuable assets? The club have been clear since the end of the season that none of our players are for sale at any price. John Berylson, Andy Ambler and Neil Harris have each echoed the stance of the club in numerous interviews over the course of the summer, however football isn’t as clear as we would all hope it would be.
Many of you kindly voted on a Twitter poll, questioning how much would you choose to sale Gregory for, results are pretty clear:
With the news of interest, the best news was released last week regarding the length left to run on Gregory’s contract. It was originally announced when signing Gregory that a three year deal had been signed, however it has since arisen the club also had an additional year clause should we wish to extend the deal. For market valuation, a player with two years on his contract is worth a lot more than a player with a single year left.
I personally believe, the price I would accept for Gregory is in the region of £2.5 Million. Comparing to other transfers for strikers in League One, the likes of Brit Assombalonga, Dwight Gayle and Connor Washington, each of these players were younger than Gregory who is currently 27 and turns 28 in August. These are players who have more years to develop and therefore command higher transfer fees. However, the cost of losing Gregory and therefore attempting to replace his goals, this is the sort of fee as a club we should be expecting for a player who has proven they can score goals at any level they’ve played at.
As always when potentially losing a player, there is a worry we would fail to replace the Gregory with a similar, if not better replacement. With the setup we currently have at the club, I personally don’t see this as an issue, the Player Recruitment department takes up a lot of the work and can provide any information and statistics on players immediately. Also, once the player is signed, due to our playing style chances will be provided for our forwards to get on the scoresheet, despite finishing the season with 26 goals, there were a few times in the season Gregory could’ve scored even more.