With Joe Edwards still very much in the early stages of his tenure, the January transfer window arguably came too soon for major Millwall business.
The Lions boss had forewarned few changes but nevertheless as the window closed the three that did arrive gave an clear indication of where the club’s recruitment was likely to go over the next few years.
Japhet Tanganga (24), Michael Obafemi (23) and Adam Mayor (19) will not only bring the squad’s average age down as well as provide much needed pace but all arrive in SE16 with a point to prove.
Loanees Tanganga and Obafemi come with Premier League pedigree from Tottenham and Burnley respectively, while Mayor joins from League Two Morecambe on a three-and-a-half year deal to become Edwards’ first permanent signing.
Mayor is a real signing of intent with the teenager already racking up 67 EFL appearances and in the long-term will add the width and creativity that was sorely missed at times from Gary Rowett’s reign.
While it may take Mayor time to adjust to Championship life, it is hoped Obafemi can quickly recapture the form he showed at Swansea before struggling after making his successful loan stint at Turf Moor permanent last summer.
Match-fitness is clearly an issue for Obafemi though, making his starting debut in the defeat at Hull only to be replaced (pre-planned) at half-time for the equally unfit and returning from injury, Tom Bradshaw.
Tanganga is in a similar intriguing position of looking to recapture his best form – after bursting onto the scene under Jose Mourinho in 2020, the defender has slowly dropped into obscurity due to a combination of unfortunate injuries and a high turnover of different managers at Spurs.
Having not started a game since February 2023, Tanganga has shown ring rust in his Lions’ appearances to date with his mis-placed pass leading to Preston’s equaliser in his second outing.
Despite this, Tanganga ended that game as one of the more impressive players on display – having the most passes out of any player on the pitch (71) as well as the most touches (81) and, like Obafemi, will only get better with more minutes.
Edwards would have also liked to have seen the return of Charlie Cresswell to The Den but was unsuccessful in their loan attempts for the Leeds United centre-back.
The 21-year-old spent the 2023/23 season on loan with the Lions but has struggled to break into Daniel Farke’s promotion chasing side with question marks raised over the player’s attitude.
And while Leeds were prepared to let Cresswell leave permanently, the likely £5m fee not only proved too much for Millwall but for a number of other potential suitors as well.
Even so, Millwall’s signings and potential targets are in stark contrast to previous transfer windows where short-term arrivals were made to temporarily alleviate long-term issues with varying degrees of success.
This move towards youthful exuberance underlines Edwards’ different approach in comparison to predecessor Rowett, underlining a quicker, fast-paced brand of football.
It will of course take time to not only implement Edwards’ vision but also bring in the right players in to deliver it and, while Millwall sit only five points above the relegation zone, a sense of pragmatism will also need to be adopted.
However, should the Lions maintain their Championship status for next season, then expect an exciting influx of talent this summer.