Birmingham City boss Lee Bowyer has said he doesn’t think 18-year-old Amari Miller is even ready to start in the Championship yet in an interview with Birmingham City, with the promising midfielder signing for Leeds United earlier this week.
The Blues’ academy graduate joined Marcelo Bielsa’s Premier League side on Monday, signing a four-year deal after completing a permanent switch to Elland Road with Birmingham and Leeds agreeing an undisclosed fee.
Miller made his professional debut in April, coming on for Lukas Jutkiewicz in stoppage time as his side secured a 2-0 home win over Stoke City.
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However, the winger managed to get a proper chance in the final two games of the season when Lee Bowyer’s men had already secured their Championship safety, with Miller starting against Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers.
And although the West Midlands side suffered heavy losses in both matches, the 18-year-old was a shining light – but has turned down the chance of gaining more first-team opportunities at St Andrew’s to go to the Premier League.
Speaking about his departure to Birmingham Live, manager Lee Bowyer said: “I introduced him because I like him. Is he ready to go and start Championship games tomorrow? I don’t believe so.
“But we would have developed and he would have improved with us and he would have got more game-time with us.
“But that’s his decision, you know. He is a young lad, he has gone to a good club, I don’t know what they will do with him but I have to say the manager there, what he has done is exceptional.
“If he is in and around the first team and training I have no doubt he will learn and improve.
“For his career I wouldn’t say he has chosen a bad club to go to, I know a lot about the club, it’s an excellent club but for his development we will have to wait and see where it goes for now.”
Despite Bowyer’s scepticism over his playing time in the Premier League, his former manager did save praise for the teenager and continued: “He was a great lad, he tried hard, good ability, so I wish him all the best because he is a really, really nice lad, well-mannered, which is important.”
Opponents of Lee Bowyer would say this is sour grapes – but he did wish the midfielder well and after seeing him in action in the latter stages of last season – not many people will know the 18-year-old better than the Blues’ manager.
He has a good point about the amount of game time Miller will get now Leeds United are back in the Premier League, even with Marcelo Bielsa previously taking chances on younger players.
The winger still has a lot to learn, so it would be better if he went out on loan to League One as opposed to staying with the Leeds U23’s team, although the Whites may want to monitor him first before shipping him out on loan.
At Birmingham, Miller was still unlikely to get too much game time so regardless of the club he’s now at, his best path at this stage in his career is always going to be a temporary move in a lower division.
And barring an injury crisis at Elland Road, we shouldn’t expect to see him play in the Premier League next season.