The rise of Crystal Palace gem Michael Olise – a fearless talent with Brighton in his sights


Not since the 2016/17 season has a player contributed goals and assists at a faster rate, and Olise will hope to add to his tally against Brighton — another of Palace’s rivals — on Friday night. With Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew away on international duty, Olise will surely start again at the Amex.

For those who have seen Olise’s growth, his performance against Millwall will not have come as a surprise. He regularly showed his footballing class in the Championship with Reading, where he excelled as a teenager before Palace agreed to pay his £8 million release clause in the summer. Brentford were also interested, while Tottenham Hotspur had scouted him extensively in recent seasons.

It was in his early days at Reading, before he had established himself as a first-team regular, when Olise demonstrated he had both the physical resilience and mental fortitude to cope with the demands of professional football.

“He has got enormous ability,” says Mark Bowen, who managed Olise at Reading. “In training he would sometimes take the p— a little bit, in his own way, and the senior players would clatter into him. He would just shrug his shoulders, bounce up and get on with the game.

“It was the way he took the hits and just bounced up and carried on. That is what made me think, alongside all the ability that he has, that he had a chance. His attitude was: ‘I don’t care. You can’t hurt me. Give me the ball again.’”

Olise, who is eligible to represent England, France, Algeria and Nigeria, is not always the easiest player to manage. At Reading he had occasional moments of lateness, and he was rather less interested in defensive drills than in playing matches. Spells at the Manchester City and Chelsea academies did not pan out as he might have hoped, and it is understood there has been the odd grumble at Palace about his approach to training.

But with age comes maturity, and with talent comes opportunity. Crucially, there is no suggestion that Olise is unwilling to work and fight for his team. “He has got an engine on him,” says Bowen. “It was never a case that he could not be bothered to run back. He will run all day.”


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