Zak Lovelace became Millwall’s second youngest debutant this season when he came on as a substitute in December against Coventry City at 15 years and 340 days old.
The striker made three more substitute appearances for Millwall this season and the club are keen to get the now 16-year-old on a professional contract.
Back in January, it was reported that Rangers had an interest in the young talent and even though nothing has come of that yet, it means the youngster is yet to put pen to paper on a deal to stay at The Den.
Not only would a move away mean they would lose his services as a player but at this stage, they would lose out significantly on compensation as he is not yet on a professional contract.
Discussing the situation, Gary Rowett told London News Online: “The club have made it clear that we would love Zak to be a part of what we do next year and on a full-time basis. That’s our aim.
“Fitzy [Scott Fitzgerald] in the academy has worked for so many years to bring the best young players through and you want to see them start coming through to the first team.
“There is an inevitability, unfortunately, that some of your better young payers get poached by other clubs. To a certain degree those fees are a little bit out of your hands.
“Zak is one of those, a lad who has had a bit of interest. He’ll be getting different advice and all we can do is show how much we want him here and then see what happens. I don’t think he has got to make a decision now. I think someone would have to be interested and essentially pay compensation for him.
“I really like him. He’s a young player I really want to see in our first team. But if a young player doesn’t sign it’s not always under our control. The complication then comes in of the compensation and how it works. You’ve seen it before for other players who moved on – Sam Edozie – who went to Manchester City. It’s a shame. I don’t think the system is particularly great.
“As usual it favours the elite clubs and punishes the clubs who are trying to develop these young players.
“That’s the lie of the land and we have to deal with it. He’s a player I’d love to keep. Whatever happens, I think we’ll see him go on to have a really good career.”
Quiz: Can you name which club Millwall sold these 23 players to from the last decade?
You can see why Gary Rowett is desperate to keep the player at the club. Not only does he possess great talent and promise to do well, but he also wants Millwall to benign from any deal that happens especially after the work they have done with the player.
If Lovelace was to leave the club now, Millwall would receive compensation for him but it would not be as great as the fee they would get if they sold him on from a professional contract and, with no firm interest in the player right now, they will be hoping they can get the youngster’s signature.
Therefore, one day in the future if he is sold on, Rowett’s side will feel as though they’re getting the money they deserve from the deal and will also be able to benefit from his talent in the meantime.