Millwall have negotiated an option to buy Jamie Shackleton if the Leeds United midfielder delivers during his season-long loan stay in South London.
The Lions made the 22-year-old, capped three times by England at U20 level, their fifth signing of the summer transfer window.
Shackleton follows centre-back Charlie Cresswell in making the temporary move from United to Gary Rowett’s side.
But the Championship club have structured the deal so that they can make Shackleton’s switch a permanent one.
The Leeds academy prospect came on in the second half of Wednesday night’s pre-season friendly stalemate against Swedish side Hammarby at The Den. The visitors won 5-3 on penalties.
“I know there is a bit of rivalry between the two clubs but, as a manager, you certainly admire the way Leeds work and play,” Rowett told the South London Press. “Playing in front of a crowd at Elland Road is going to stand him in good stead for playing in front of the Millwall fans.
“We know we get players who are used to working hard and have that ethos of wanting to be better, that’s also a plus for us.
used to working hard and have that ethos of wanting to be better, that’s also a plus for us.
“If we’re looking to take loan players we should be looking to take them from clubs we feel are going to be very similar in the way we want to play and our culture.
“You’ve got to make your own friends and settle yourself. But it’s a lot easier if there are two people from the same club or someone else you know.
It helps in your downtime for someone to show you around and show you the ropes.”
Shackleton has made 78 appearances for Leeds, 40 of those in the Championship and 27 in the Premier League.
He featured 22 times, scoring twice, when Marcelo Bielsa’s team won the Championship title in 2020.
Rowett said: “He’s played as a holding midfielder, an advanced midfielder, as a number 10, right wing-back and right-back.
“His preference is to play somewhere central, rather than wing-back or full-back. I’ve got a bit of an idea where I see him featuring for us and I think it is one of those central positions in the middle of the pitch.
“He’s coming in as more of a midfield option than a wing-back option. His flexibility will be important to us.
“We’ve got some really good options. Over 46 games in the Championship you need all of those options.
“He’s pretty versatile but it’s his energy and ability to play in different ways – he can receive balls in tight areas, get out and progress the team up the pitch. He can build possession a little bit. He’s very, very mobile. We spoke a little about this season being able to play at a bit of a higher tempo for longer. He’s got lots of good attributes.”
Millwall are set to add to their attack before the window closes but Rowett had wanted to check on the development of the young players already on the books.
Defender Alex Mitchell, who spent last season with Leyton Orient, looks set to head back out for game time.
Tyler Burey and Isaac Olaofe could also struggle for significant minutes.
“They’ve all got lots of clubs who would want to take them on loan,” said Rowett. “Depending what we bring in, we have to look to make good decisions on trying to help them develop.
“Those are the kind of conversations we have all the time. Ideally you want a young player who has done really well to see them hitting 46 games – now that’s going to be a big challenge to give anyone, or promise them, that.
“Say we’ve got a top League One club who wants to take one of our players and play him every week, we have to consider whether that would get them to the level we want quicker than being a bit-part for us. That also coincides with wanting to strengthen in one or two areas.
“You’re always trying to strengthen in an attacking area, of course. If we can bring another player in, of a different type, in those areas then fantastic.
“There are another couple of areas in the squad where potentially we just need a bit more balance or competition, again that depends on what we do with some of those young players also.”
Millwall play their final friendly at home to Ipswich Town tomorrow (3pm).