Millwall could replicate Zian Flemming success with statement summer signing

Millwall could replicate Zian Flemming success with statement summer signing

While Millwall faltered at the final stretch of a hugely positive, stride-taking season in which they had largely occupied the top-six, it has beneficially provided both a stern learning curve and a crucial realization.

As a collective, they were evidently incapable of coping with the engulfing rafts of pressure that ensued towards the end of the campaign, epitomized by uncharacteristically dropping points to the likes of Birmingham and Wigan Athletic- and, of course, their complete and utter capitulation at home, and at the hands of Blackburn Rovers on the last day.


That said, they had affirmatively appeared to be poised for a position in the play-offs for much of the season, and that should serve to instill a more developed feeling of belonging.

Millwall have now earned the right to be classified in contention for promotion providing that they continue to gear their upwards trajectory and build upon the brickwork laid last term.

The signing of Zian Flemming the previous season mirrored those exact ambitions, and the Lions must strive to maintain the same statement-signalling nature in the market ahead of this summer to solidify their reputation as a team capable of pushing and competing in the upper echelons of the league table.

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And, after the Dutchman’s wealth of success throughout his first season in East London, they may well be able to embrace repetition and fulfill next season’s call of duty by exploring the same transfer corridor that they walked down to acquire Flemming.

How effective has Zian Flemming been for Millwall so far?

Having scored twelve league goals in each of his previous two Eredivisie campaigns for Fortuna Sittard, Millwall secured a shock swoop for Flemming last summer for a reported £1.75M fee, concluding their long-standing interest amid stern, yet telling competition from Wolfsburg, Empoli and Olympiacos alongside domestic duo Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield Town.

The feeling at the time was that Millwall had been supremely fortunate to land his services, and that has only been evoked through the series of dazzling displays that Flemming has conjured up ever since making the move.

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No attacking midfielder in the Championship trumped his 15-goal return, while the dynamic interchangeability with talisman striker Tom Bradshaw surfaced as one of the finest partnerships in the division by amounting for 56% of all Millwall’s goals.

Who should Millwall sign to repeat their Zian Flemming success, and why?

Given the success that they have found from raiding Dutch football’s top flight, Millwall should look no further than Vitesse Arnhem winger Million Manhoef.

The 21-year-old prospect made 33 Eredivisie appearances last term in what was an impressive individual breakout campaign, as Phillip Cocu’s side finished 10th.

Direct, daring and productive going forward, Manhoef’s outlay of nine goals and five assists makes for good reading and, as per FBRef, per 90 minutes he ranked above 97 % of wingers and attacking midfielders in the division for successful take-ons that led to a shot attempt (0.70), above 91% for attempted take-ons (5.66), above 87% for shots on goal (3.02), and above 85% for both through balls (0.31) and carries into the final third (2.79).

The data illuminates that he is the type of player who will always try and make things happen with the ball at his feet, even if it does not always pay off, and Millwall could do with that sense of individualism and unpredictability in the wide areas.

Duncan Watmore and Andreas Volgsammer have both established meaningful influences at The Den, but neither player bears the archetypes of a natural, flair-orientated winger who will relentlessly strike fear into opposing defenders all match long, so adding a new profile for competition would be smart business moving forward.

Naturally, at such a young age, there are still areas of Manhoef’s game that are deficient, such as his passing in key areas and defensive contribution, though he is at the age where he will inevitably improve and work on such footballing flaws.

And he may just be attainable, as it would make sense for the Dutch youth International to explore pastures new following his side’s uninspiring finish, just as Flemming did last year.

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Millwall could have to stump up a sizable fee for his services, but the short-term and long-term benefits strongly suggest that any potential deal would pay dividends.

If they wish to continue their business on Dutch shores, Manhoef represents a realistic, and high-reward option moving into next season.

  • June 25, 2023