A player will know he is doing something right in his career if he is being targeted by two of the top Premier League teams. At the same time, he will have one hell of a difficult choice on his hands. That’s the position Michael Olise finds himself in.
Fabrizio Romano reported that Crystal Palace’s crown jewel is the subject of interest from Chelsea and Manchester City in a tug-of-war that is a testament to Olise’s talents.
Both clubs are waiting for clarity about his conditions as he picked up injury last month.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 23, 2023
Since joining from Reading in the Championship in 2021, the winger has gone from strength to strength to now stand amongst the top wide forwards in the Premier League.
Last season was his breakout year, as he played all but one game in the Premier League and got 11 assists with two goals for a Palace team that weren’t always the most prolific side.
Consequently, big clubs started noticing him and now he looks likely to leave Palace in a deal that would leave them very rich.
But out of Manchester City and Chelsea, which team should he join? We make the arguments for both and ultimately decide on the better option at the end-
The fit couldn’t be more seamless. City have just lost Riyad Mahrez to Al-Hilal and in terms of playing style, Olise is a less developed and younger version of the Algerian.
Just like Mahrez, Olise is not the quickest but relies on dribbling and his agility to beat defenders off the dribble through body feints and direction changes. He is also a left-footed right winger who has the tendency to come inside and make plays instead of just shooting curlers from the right half-space.
Mahrez had unlocked another gear of prolific goalscoring to his game which Olise doesn’t have yet. His best goalscoring season, for Reading the Championship, had seven goals in 44 appearances. For comparison, Mahrez has crossed double figures in goals four times in the Premier League, including a career-high of 17.
However, Olise is 11 years younger than his Algerian counterpart.
There is no better teacher in world football for attackers than Pep Guardiola and Olise will surely take a leap if he adheres to the Spaniard’s instructions.
Olise already has the passing and creating chances part down pat. Knowing when to release the ball to create a chance and when to hold on to it in anticipation of a better move is the primary skill needed in a Pep team. Olise’s learning curve in that aspect will be smooth. With some time on the training pitch and natural improvement with age and experience, he can easily become an able Riyad Mahrez replacement.
Unlike Man City, the fit is less clear at Chelsea. While they have only two options for the right-wing spot – Noni Madueke and new signing Angelo Gabriel, their attackers’ skillsets are overlapping, thus making it harder to predict their roles.
Moreover, new manager Mauricio Pochettino is still in the early stages of putting his stamp on the side so his preferred first-teamers are not year clear, unlike Guardiola, who is in the eighth year of his project.
However, Olise’s suitability as a Pochettino player is clearer to see.
For starters, he is a pressing machine. FBRef ranks him above the 85th percentile in every important defensive metric- Tackles, blocks, and interceptions.
Endless stamina and hard work are the two tenets of Pochettino’s pressing game so Olise will fit right in straightaway.
Positionally, his fit with Nicolas Jackson is tantalising. The Senegal international has provided Chelsea with a focal point up front to link play with which has so far given outstanding results. Pacey wingers like Mykhaylo Mudryk have looked reborn playing alongside Jackson, who is quickly gaining an understanding of how his teammates want the ball.
A Pochettino striker is as much a creator as he is a finisher like Harry Kane was under him. Jackson is on the same path. In Olise, he will have another option to play the ball off of. With Olise’s smart decision-making and pass-first approach, he can provide something different to Chelsea’s other wide men, who are more inside forwards than inverted wingers.
Chelsea are a team finding their identity under a new manager with a lot of new parts and old players who are unsure about their futures. On the other hand, Manchester City are a well-oiled machine who have just lost a part and Olise is a direct replacement for that part.
The potential to win more trophies, learn under the best manager in the world, and have a clear plan laid out for him should be too good a prospect for Michael Olise to pass up. In a choice between Chelsea and Manchester City for Olise, City are the no-brainer pick at this point.