Two of Rangers brightest prospects departed Ibrox this summer, but in very different circumstances.
While 15-year-old wonderkid Billy Gilmour (above) swapped Glasgow for the bright lights of Chelsea against the advice of countless former pros, his former youth-team colleague Mati Zata has joined non-league East Kilbride on a development loan until January.
And it’s a credit to Zata, two years Gilmour’s senior, that he does not see a temporary stint at a semi-professional club with a stadium holding 660 people as a negative – exactly the opposite in fact.
“People will be thinking that coming to the Lowland League is a step down but I see it as a chance to test myself in a team that wants to win and knows how to win,” highly-rated Zata, who made his debut in a 1-1 draw with Stirling University at the weekend, told the Daily Record.
“I don’t just expect to walk into the team because I’ve come from Rangers. I want to earn my way in by impressing the manager. I’m here to gain experience against older players. I’m playing against men in this league and I feel I have coped well so far.”
Some say that testing yourself against fully-grown, physical players in the harsh reality of the lower leagues is far more beneficial to a youngster’s development than the sanitised world of academy football.
And Zata has an opportunity to add weight to the theory during his four-month spell in the Lowland league. If the teenager impresses, he is far more likely to find first-team football easier to come by than Gilmour.
Gilmour may have scored twice on his Chelsea Under-23 debut against Southend in July but it goes without saying that young players aren’t exactly blessed with countless opportunities at Stamford Bridge.
Zata played alongside Gilmour at youth level and it will be interesting to see who benefits more long-term from leaving Rangers in the summer.