Olise Set for Selhurst Park Challenge

For the past two seasons, he has been linked to several Premier League sides. It was therefore no surprise when it was announced that Michael Olise had agreed a four-year deal with Premier League side, Crystal Palace


The youngster impressed in the Skybet Championsh­ip for the Royals last season, and that has earned him amove tothetop-flight Crystal Palace that have completed the signing of highly-rated French-Nigerian midfielder Michael Olise from Reading.

Olise, who is still eligible to play for Nigeria, has signed a four-year deal with the Eagles after attracting interest from many clubs in the Premier League having had a fantastic season in the Sky bet Championsh­ip.

The 19- year-old scored seven times and registered 12 assist sin 44 league games for Reading last season. His performanc­es did not go unnoticed as he was named the Championsh­ip Young Player of the Season while he also featured in the team of the season.

Born in England, O li se has played for the French U -18 team, but he is also eligible to play for Algeria and Nigeria through his parents.

He was on the standby list in Nigeria’s Squad for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations against Benin and Lesotho in March.

Olise’s move to Selhurst Park will see him link up with another Nigerian national team target Eberechi Eze under Patrick Viera, who is the new Crystal Palace coach.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) target was in March rated the 10 th most promising player of his age group in the world by N eu châ tel-based Internatio­nal Centre for Sports Studies (CIES).

The playmaker is the only Nigerian eligible player to rank among the top 25 for the 2000, 2001 and 2002 age groups.

CIES used the capital experience approach, weighing the domestic league minutes played by footballer­s with the sporting level of their teams of employment on a global level.

O lise had a break out season at Reading and the solid campaign saw him linked with a plethora of English Premier League clubs in the January transfer window but he remained put at the Royals.

The Three Lions of England are also in the discussion, given he was born in London and currently plays in the country.

His younger brother, Richard, is on the books of Chelsea, where Michael started off his career before joining Reading.

The older Olise is capable of playing multiple positions including right mid field, attacking midfield, left winger, right winger and left midfield.

“My best position? Any position the manager tells me to play. At my age, I think it’s important to spend time on the pitch because it’s the best place to learn and develop your game,” Olise told Daily Mirror.

Olise has been one of the standout stars of the Championsh­ip season, said manager Jose Go mes, who worked with some extremely gifted players during his time at Porto but the former Reading manager becomes animated at the thought of young Olise.

“We are talking about a player who will bring people to the stadium,” he tells Sky Sports. “It is impossible not to feel happiness when watching his movements and his technical ability.

“He love stop lay football and he has the courage to try magical things even in tight areas. Things that some players cannot even do in training, he will do them in a game.”

Now 19, the boy Gomes rewarded with a profession­al debut in 2019 is fast becoming a man, attracting the attention of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.

Whether operating on the right wing and cutting inside or entrusted with a central role, he is the creator.

Gomes is not surprised but there is an awareness too that the teenager’s path has not been a smooth one. He arrived at Reading after spells in the academy at Chelsea and Manchester City. Some wonder what they must have missed. Others have questioned his attitude.

Former Reading favourite Stephen Hunt has urged Olise to channel his attitude “in the right way” and, for the most part, that is what he has done.

“Michael did not like to study,” recalls Gomes. “But when I saw him play I asked the academy director if he could train with us.

“It was the step that he needed to take, not that it was straightfo­rward at such a young age. “His body was not very strong so he would lose physical challenges all the time. Others were so much stronger than him.”

Fast-tracking Olise into the first team - he was only 17 years and three months old when making his debut against Leeds United - was a huge challenge but it engaged the player. Before long, he was giving regular glimpses of the quality that set him apart from the rest.

“I loved the speed and the technical ability that he showed. Even without space, under pressure, he was able to dribble past two or three players in a very small space. At the same time, if you give him space he is able to find the net easily with his left or even his right.”

Gomes spotted the potential but it is under Serbian manager, Veljko Paunovic that it is being real is ed. The skill was there but it was not until last season that Olise registered his first senior goal.

“He had to get his numbers up. You could see he was a good player but he was not assisting enough and he was not scoring enough. He was not converting it into figures and that is what is so important,” said Michael Morrison, his Reading teammate.

Morrison believes that Paunovic has been key to his developmen­t.

“He is lucky to have a manager who supports him, sometimes plays him inside, sometimes plays him outside, knows when to rest him, doesn’t put too much pressure on him to carry the team every week. When you have young talent like that it can be easy to overuse it.

“The manager has also been on to him to make sure that his mentality is right and he achieves everything he can because I would say that he can be a top player in the Premier League. If he works hard now he could get a move to one of the top Premier League teams.

“I am sure he is good enough for that and I know there is a lot of interest. We are lucky to have him but he still needs that game time and this is a really good place for him to be at the moment. He is playing in a good team and I think that has really helped him. As long as he keeps his head down and works as hard as he has been doing, he can go to the very top.”

Gomes agrees and regardless of whether or not Reading are able to achieve an unlikely promotion, he does not think Olise will have to wait long to play in the Premier League.

“I would not be surprised if we see Michael playing in a big team in a very short space of time,” he concludes. “He is different.”

Football runs in the Olise family as Michael’s younger brother is also a footballer and has been capped by England at the schoolboy level.

Michael started his football career with Chelsea’s youth team, which is also where Michael’s brother (Richard) currently plays.

However, Olise moved to Reading in 2015 and played with the club’s youth team. Due to his young age, Olise did not have a profession­al contract with the Royals until 2019, signing a three-year deal in July.

The enterprisi­ng youngster made his first-team debut for Reading in 2019, coming on as a substitute in a 3-0 home loss to Leeds United.

Since making his debut for the Royal’ s first team, O lise’ s profile has been on the rise. Last season, he played a vital role in Reading’s promotion chase.

In terms of style and his position on his pitch, Olise is versatile. He has played as an attacking midfielder and on the right-wing this season.

When asked about his preferred position, O li se revealed he was ready to play anywhere on the pitch as he is at the age where he needs to learn

 ??  ?? Michael Olise tries to shield the ball away from a Derby County defender during a Championsh­ip match
Michael Olise tries to shield the ball away from a Derby County defender during a Championsh­ip match

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