Millwall unhappy as Rangers land ‘sought-after’ youngster Zak Lovelace, while prolific striker completes Aston Villa move

The 16-year-old has been tipped for a bright future after making his first-team breakthrough at The Den last season.

Rangers have continued to strengthen their youth ranks by securing the signing of “sought-after” teenage striker Zak Lovelace from Millwall.

The 16-year-old, who made his first-team debut for the English Championship side last season, will join the Light Blues academy set-up initially.

Lovelace was reportedly being tracked by a host of clubs in England after impressing in four starts for Gary Rowett’s side.

Zak Lovelace has left Millwall to join Rangers.
Zak Lovelace has left Millwall to join Rangers.
Zak Lovelace has left Millwall to join Rangers.

Given his age, the frontman was free to move on under freedom of contract rules, which has led to frustration from large sections of the Millwall fanbase, who reckon he is destined for a bright future.

Rangers sporting director Ross Wilson told the club’s official website: “We are delighted to welcome Zak to Rangers. He is an exciting young player and one we are sure will progress here.

“He has developed really well with the staff at Millwall and we can see lots of potential in him.

“A key part of our scouting strategy has been to identify and invest in talent to strengthen our pipeline and the strategy is working successfully for us with Calvin Bassey and Charlie McCann being examples of that.

“Our scouts are doing a great job and are working on a number of emerging talents this summer with Lancelot Pollard also recently joining from Aberdeen.”

Rangers head of academy Craig Mulholland added: “Our academy strategy will see us develop local homegrown talent that have been with us from a young age, like Nathan Patterson, Leon King and Alex Lowry however importantly, we will augment these exciting prospects with high-potential recruited players ensuring we a have a strong pipeline of talent to challenge for the first team.

“Player trading at academy level, as we have seen this summer, is now becoming a normal part of most major clubs’ strategic plans.

“We have been active as a club in this area over the past couple of years as part of our own plan and we see talented players developing well in our ranks and we are sure that Zak will follow that positive path.

“Zak is a very exciting and quick forward player who our recruitment team, headed by David Stevenson, have been tracking for some time.

“We are very much looking forward to working with him and seeing his accelerated development over the coming months and years in the excellent environment we now have at Rangers.

Lancelot Pollard is highly regarded at Aberdeen.
Lancelot Pollard is highly regarded at Aberdeen.
Lancelot Pollard is highly regarded at Aberdeen.

“Zak will be well supported by his dad Devon and his strong family unit and we can’t wait to see what level he can reach.”

Millwall admitted they were “disappointed and saddened” by the transfer having worked hard to convince the player that it was best for his personal and professional development to remain at The Den.

Their statement added: “Despite the frustrations, everyone at Millwall wishes Lovelace the best of luck in his future career and hopes that he goes on to realise his outstanding potential.”

Meanwhile, Rangers have confirmed the transfer of prolific teenage striker Rory Wilson to Aston Villa.

The 16-year-old has completed his switch to the English Premier League club for an undisclosed fee, with the presence of former Gers boss Steven Gerrard believed to have been the deciding factor in his decision.

The Scotland youth internationalist, a product of the Rangers academy, impressed in front of goal for the club’s under-18 and ‘B’ teams, netting a sensational 40 times last season.

The Ibrox side were eager to keep their young starlet at the club but his decision to move south of the border has been “respected.”

Commenting on the youngster, who joined Rangers at the age of eight, Craig Mulholland admitted: “Rory is a young player who we have watched develop from a very young boy into a young man.

“He comes from a very strong family who support him exceptionally well and we wish him well on his journey.

“Although our preference was for Rory to continue his journey at Rangers, we also respect his decision.

“We can no see some exciting recruitment into the club with talented players domestically and cross-border choosing to join Rangers and we are pleased with our development in this area.”