September 8 2004
The 19-year-old winger’s existing deal expires in the summer, and although Palace would be entitled to compensation because he is under 24, the club risk losing one of their most valuable assets for a fraction of his value.
Tottenham Hotspur director of football Frank Arnesen had a £3m transfer deadline-day bid for Routledge instantly rejected by chairman Simon Jordan, but the Croydon-born starlet’s Premiership performances are clearly attracting attention.
Iain Dowie said: "I didn’t want to let Wayne go and the chairman didn’t want to let Wayne go, so it wasn’t an issue. It was opportunistic of Spurs.
"Spurs is a big club, but this is a very important year for Wayne’s development."
The England Under 19 international has recently been signed up by Wayne Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford for the Formation Group (formerly Proactive). He was instrumental in engineering Rooney’s £27million move to Old Trafford, despite Everton’s reluctance to sell and an offer of a club-record five year deal.
Dowie said: "Wayne is out of contract at the end of the year. I have made the point that we would like to get him tied up, no question.
"Will that muddy the waters? Clearly it will. It’s similar to the Julian Gray scenario I believe. But I don’t know what went on before."
Dowie is still in the market for out-of-contract players, despite the deadline day signings of Nicola Ventola and Gonzalo Sorondo on loan from Inter Milan and Wayne Andrews from Colchester, but Palace will not be shelling out huge wages.
He said: "Free transfers you can still bring in after the deadline, so we are still looking around obviously. There are a few out-of-contracts about, but you have got to be very thoughtful about who you bring in and who you trial.
"Youri Djorkaeff is a quality player, but the financial ramifications made it difficult for Bolton and they are paying Okocha 40 grand a week."
Australian midfielder Anthony Danze and Aston Villa’s out-of-favour Moroccan midfielder Hassan Katchoul are both on trial at Beckenham, and Dowie will identify his next transfer targets before the January transfer window opens.
He said: "I hope we have still got plenty in the budget because it has not been a spending fest by any stretch. I would like to have got a lot more players in. Key targets and signings did not get over the line. I am not disrespecting anyone, but Fitz Hall is the only real key signing we got.
"I will be looking long and hard between now and January to make sure we are better prepared. If we do go for a target we have got to hone in and finish it off and not be distracted by other targets."
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