Analysis

Michael Olise is set to become Crystal Palace’s first signing in the Patrick Vieira era! – What will he bring?

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Young exciting French talent to be signed by a French manager, sound familiar? Arsene Wenger might have left Arsenal three years ago, but his former disciple is now following in his footsteps. Patrick Vieira, who became the new Crystal Palace manager last week, is ready to make his first signing in 19-year-old Reading player Michael Olise. 

Who is Michael Olise?

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A Chelsea academy product, Michael Olise joined Reading’s youth set up as a 13-year-old. He was not the most talented individual when he first joined the club, but he will be leaving as one. Playing through the ranks of the club, Olise first impressed when he joined the U-18 set up of the club as a 15-year-old and was playing at a level severely above his age. 

Thus, it was no surprise when he made the senior team at the age of 18, becoming one of the youngest players to make their debut for the Royals in the history of the club. Soon, Olise was called up to the French U-18 team and has since made 2 appearances for his nation, although he could also go on to play for England in the future due to his dual citizenship.

His performances for Reading last season did not go unnoticed as he won the EFL Young Player of the Season, but it will be interesting to see what he could bring to Palace.

Style of Play and how he could fit in at Palace:

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An attacking midfielder by trade, Olise has already developed a sense of versatility by featuring behind the striker as well as on the right-wing. A left-footed midfielder, the Frenchman has a habit of cutting in on his favoured left and slipping in through balls or finding the back of the net. This season Olise scored 8 goals and provided 12 assists in 46 appearances for Reading, with almost all of his goal-contributions coming from his wand of a left foot. 

Palace, who were playing in a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 on most occasions last season, clearly do not employ an attacking midfielder in the team unless he is one of the 3 men in midfield. Vieira, who was managing at OGC Nice last season until December, employed a 5 as well as a 4 man backline on occasions while he also used a 3 man midfield as well as a double pivot in the centre of the pitch. Thus, from the looks of it, Vieira could chalk and change the lineup a lot during the upcoming pre-season depending upon the incomings and several outgoings from the club.

Vieira, however, would be glad if Wilfried Zaha stays at the club because if that happens, he could have him play on the left-wing next season and Michael Olise on the right-wing. Two technically sound wingers with a lot of trickery on the ball could make Palace an intimidating outfit next season. Andros Townsend, who used to play out on the right side last season, is out of contract this season with the Eagles not having offered him a new contract yet. Signing Olise could be the sign that Vieira wants young talent at the club rather than deadwood. 

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Olise is dynamic, fast, and has a habit of playing with the ball on the ground, something Vieira was also taught as a young kid by Arsene Wenger nearly 25 years ago. His 2 key passes per 90 minutes last season are certainly proof of how he could change the way Palace operates and make them a more efficient side in terms of creativity. There were a lot of times last season when the final ball was missing for the Eagles, something Olise could certainly change. He is also taking 2 shots per game, which is a sign that he does not shy away when the ball comes to him but this statistic could be influenced by the fact that he was one of the most important players at Reading last season and thus he was also provided with the ball on a lot of occasions, something that will not happen immediately at Palace.

One of the areas Olise will have to improve in his defensive work as he was sometimes the furthest man up the pitch last season. At Palace, especially in the Premier League, he will have to track back and provide his fair share of tackles and interceptions. However, given that he is only 19, there is a lot of time for the Frenchman to improve, and given his desire and ambition, he will be able to cut it in what is said to be the best league in the world.

When will Olise be announced as a Crystal Palace player?

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image credit: Instagram / @thepalacedaily

A fee of £8 million has been discussed for the player with talks also being at an advanced stage between Reading and Palace. Olise only has a year left on his contract and has refused a contract extension with the Royals. This has led to the club wanting to cash in on the player while he still holds some material value to them.

Crystal Palace are confident of signing the player this week, while the announcement could be done early next week. Patrick Vieira’s era at Palace is set to commence soon with a challenging pre-season upfront, and Michael Olise is poised to become the first signing in this new era at Selhurst Park.

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