Millwall’s head of recruitment Alex Aldridge believes former Derby County player Alex Pearce is among the club’s most important summer transfers, South London Press report.
I think in January people were slightly surprised that the first player we brought in was Alex Pearce. On the face of it supporters probably didn’t feel centre-half was a priority position. But, in hindsight, he has probably been one of our most important signings, as a loan and then as a free transfer. We do look at players who might not be valued at the club they are at or who don’t fit with their style of play.
Derby signed Alex Pearce from Reading back in 2015. He moved to Pride Park on a four-year deal having had promotion and Premier League experience with the Royals.
But Pearce was largely a peripheral figure at Derby. He long acted as third-choice defender, behind captain Richard Keogh and the likes of Jason Shackell, Curtis Davies and Fikayo Tomori over the seasons.
The Republic of Ireland international joined Millwall on loan last January. He became a permanent fixture in central defence alongside Jake Cooper, helping the Lions preserve their Championship status.
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Millwall manager Neil Harris made Pearce one of his summer priorities, and Derby were happy to allow him to join the London club with his contract expiring at Pride Park.
Pearce always struggled to play out from the back. He isn’t comfortable in possession. Moreover, he struggles against pace when tasked with playing in a pressing higher line.
But Millwall will feel they have signed a summer bargain. Harris has built a physical, direct team with a deep, compact defence and Pearce can simply focus on his strengths.
The 30-year-old has started all six Championship games for the Lions this season, averaging an impressive four aerial winners and seven clearances per league encounter.