Millwall manager Gary Rowett has failed to learn Lee Bowyer’s lesson as he fumes about Rangers stealing in on teenage striker Zak Lovelace.
The Ibrox side have taken advantage of cross-border compensation rules to announce a deal for the 16-year-old forward, who was handed his Lions debut as a 15-year-old.
Had Lovelace moved to a club in England then Millwall would’ve been due a substantially higher development fee but because Rangers play north of the border, they’ve pinched him for peanuts.
It’s not the first time the Ibrox side have done this; most recently Calvin Bassey joined from Leicester City but it was Joe Aribo’s transfer from Charlton that pulled up the most trees.
Now set to move to Southampton in a deal that could top £10m, Rangers paid only £300k to bring Joe Aribo to Scotland when his Addicks contract expired in 2019.
At the time a fuming Lee Bowyer lambasted the move, branding the player’s decision to move a “mistake” and claiming Aribo would live to regret it, with Boywer claiming the move rendered a future Premier League transfer out of the question.
Two medals, a Europa League Final goal and 20 Nigeria caps later, Bowyer has been made to eat his words.
Gary Rowett brands Zak Lovelace move to Rangers a “backwards step”
Now, Gary Rowett has threatened to fall into the same category of zoomer as Lee Bowyer as he gets particularly salty about Lovelace’s transfer to Rangers, branding it a “backwards step”.
As a result the Millwall manager has joined the long list of ignorant English footballing figures who talk down Scottish football and almost inevitably always get proven wrong.
“People make decisions for reasons only they know,” said Rowett [South London Press].
“My opinion is that if you’re at a Championship club that value you so highly that they are prepared to put you on the bench – because they trust you, think you’re a good player and work on a plan to get you into the first-team this very season – it seems strange you take what looks a backward step for the next 18 months to two years.
“Rangers are a massive club. It’s not for me to judge why someone wants to join a club.
“I am disappointed with that one. I don’t have any grudges. It’s a disappointing system where you can work so hard with a player in the academy for so many years – put so much time and effort in – and it’s far easier to take a player from an English club to Scotland, and vice versa.
“Probably that needs to be looked at so the rules apply the same whether you are a Premier League club or an SPL club. Otherwise big clubs from each division are going to be pinching kids from cross border all the time.
“I don’t blame Rangers for doing that, or any other of the English clubs because they are seizing the opportunity. I don’t think it is healthy for academies, that’s what I would say.”
Zak Lovelace will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey by breaking into the Rangers first-team and going on to leave an impression with clubs down south.
Speaking of Calvin Bassey, read about why the Rangers must use a reported £19m transfer as evidence they should stick to their guns with the defender.