Academy

Crystal Palace should prevent more Zion Atta’s to protect the project

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Zion Atta, the highly-rated 16-year-old teenager, confirmed his departure from London side Crystal Palace on his social media page, after being part of their developmental team since 2019.

The sort after Crystal Palace protege’s contract situation had to be an issue with the Palace’s board since the contract had been proposed to the teenager to avoid losing him to a potential suitor who was lurking around the talented attacking midfielder. The delay and lack of compromise between the player’s representatives and the club concerning the contract situation had generated uncertainty about his stay, which alerted clubs in Europe to intensify their interest.

According to The Athletic, “It was reported that Palace was not prepared to break their strict wage structure for academy players to accommodate his wage demands which were understood to be around 2,000 pounds per week.”

Since being represented by super-agent Mino Raiola, teams like AS Roma, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Feyenoord, Ajax, Dortmund, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, and Manchester City had registered an interest to sign the former Manchester United and Chelsea trialist.

OGC Nice’s interest emanated after Crystal Palace was linked with Nice forward and former Manchester United youth player Deji Sotona who was given a positive appraisal from Palace’s new coach Patrick Vieira. Nice has now been reported to have signed Zion, with Mino Raiola insisting on inserting a minimal release clause in the teenager’s contract which allows the player to be signed easily by a potential suitor when he’s making strides.

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ZION ATTA’S EXIT EFFECT ON THE CLUB PROJECT

Zion Atta’s exit will be a disappointment to Crystal Palace and a stain to their project which focused on developing and building the team around young and talented players with sell-on value, which differs from their previous position, considering that they were officially the oldest team in the Premier League last season with an average age of 29.2 years according to the CIES football observatory. Palace summer signing of Michael Olise, Marc Guehi, and Odsonne Edouard who are 19, 21 & 23-years old respectively, indicates the club’s direction for the coming seasons.

Acting upon Patrick Vieira’s recommendation, Crystal Palace appointed former PSG Under-17’s developmental coach Said Aigoun who has built a reputation in his role, having worked with PSG’s academy graduates like Kingsley Coman, Christopher Nkunku, Matteo Guendouzi, Presnel Kimpembe, and the likes. The Frenchman reportedly left his role at PSG angrily due to the club’s inability to give a considerable pathway for the club’s academy graduates to get first-team opportunities.

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image credit: cpfc.co.uk

After Said Aigoun’s appointment at Crystal Palace, he stated in his interview that, “we need to continue that work with the young players who join us and who will have different needs to the senior players in the squad. It is a role that is close to my heart given my career and which is very important for Patrick Vieira, who has proved everywhere he has been that he is capable of launching young players and making them play well.”

With Aigoun’s appointment, the club would have thought Zion Atta and his representatives would be convinced enough to trust the club’s project but unfortunately, the former Millwall academy player is regarded as one of the country’s brightest prospects couldn’t put a pen to paper with the Eagles.

HOW TO POSSIBLY KEEP THESE YOUNG POTENT LADS TO AVOID ANOTHER ZION ATTA

Crystal Palace recently integrated their academy products like Nathan Ferguson and Trick Mitchell into the first team with the hope of building future success through them, and giving more chances to other academy graduates hereby, creating an assured pathway for the youngsters to earn their senior debut at the club, which will limit controversial scenario such like Zion Atta.

At this point, Patrick Vieira and the board will have to stay true to their objective to implement an attacking-based system that surrounds young players and the club’s academy talented players in the nearest future.

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