The Premier League is enriched with youthful talent this season, with many proving themselves to be regular starters for their clubs. A few examples include Newcastle United’s Lewis Miley, who broke into the first team earlier this season and has remained a key contributor as Eddie Howe’s side copes with the vast injury crisis that has taken its toll on his team’s performances.
Alejandro Garnacho has been continuously relied on to provide an offensive spark by Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag. And Chelsea’s 20-year-old right-back Malo Gusto has seamlessly adapted to life in England by filling the considerable void left by club captain Reece James.
Toward the east of Stamford Bridge lies Crystal Palace, a club that has recently adopted a youth-prioritized transfer policy and has consequentially acquired some exciting talents. Among them is a gifted French winger, Michael Olise, who has caught the eye of many elite teams and is attracting interest after more than two successful seasons.
However, there are two clubs desperately in need of a right winger who would immensely benefit from adding a talent like Olise to the roster. Coincidentally, both those teams lie in Manchester.
Why do Manchester City and Manchester United need a right winger?
Starting with the champions, the 2023 summer transfer window saw Riyad Mahrez, crucial for Manchester City’s treble-winning campaign, depart to the Saudi Pro League. Although this opened a path for the coveted academy graduate, Palmer decided to part ways and move to Chelsea.
The two outgoings left a hole in City’s right-wing department, with new signing Jérémy Doku playing in his preferred left-wing spot.
Since Pep Guardiola’s players are adept at playing multiple positions, City has seen Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva play this role, with Kyle Walker sometimes venturing forward and maintaining the high position on the right when his team has the ball.
Although the players mentioned above have considerable quality, their output from the right wing is bound not to be as profound as a right-wing specialist.
Therefore, it has led to a reduction in the attacking threat from City’s right side – reflected from the very start of the season, as the data suggests.
Manchester United’s recruitment policy has long been critiqued for being flawed and inconsistent. A short-term perspective on squad building has impacted the club’s ability to compete for silverware, unlike their Manchester rivals, who have meticulously designed their recruitment strategy to be sustainable and effective.
United’s appalling squad planning has left plenty of managers light in various departments over the past decade. This trend has continued during Erik ten Hag’s reign as the Dutch manager has struggled to cope with injuries since the drop in quality when relying on backup options has been significant.
Furthermore, United’s recruitment team has misjudged several signings, with right-winger Antony being the high-profile failure purchased for €95 million.
The Brazilian’s one-dimensional technique to attack by always cutting infield and rarely hitting the byline for crosses while not being a capable one-versus-one specialist on the flanks has hindered United’s dynamism in the final third – with the former being a theme since his Ajax days.
With Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS taking over all football operations after acquiring a 25% stake in United, we can expect better recruitment decisions in the future. The early indications also suggest that there will be investment in the squad to address key areas where the team is lacking – one of them will undoubtedly be the signing of a young and proficient right winger.
What makes Michael Olise the ideal candidate?
Both Manchester clubs need a dynamic right winger who is well-rounded in all aspects of their game – dribbling, creative passing, crossing, and versatility – all of which Olise brings to the table.
Starting with his one-versus-one ability, Olise ranks as one of the best dribblers this season for successful take-ons (%) in the league. However, due to recurring injuries, the Frenchman has started less than ten matches so far this campaign. This aids his high take-on completion rate since it is difficult to maintain the same success rate while attempting more volume of dribbles.
Nevertheless, Manchester United fans would keep an eye out for Antony’s location on the data plot as he ranks low for the rate of take-ons completed despite recording more or less the same volume as Olise.
(as of 29-01-2024)
Manchester City fans would be interested in Olise’s output from last season, where he ranked among the best in the division, including Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Bukayo Saka of Arsenal for successful take-ons among those that at least completed 130 dribbles.
Furthermore, he was also one of the most creative players in the league – highlighted by the shot-creating actions generated in which Olise ranked in the top ten.
This trend has continued into the current campaign, with the right-winger raising the ceiling to another level. However, there is the small caveat that this figure is from a far smaller sample size.
(as of 29-01-2024)
Lastly, Olise also provides his team with flexibility since he can play as a central attacking midfielder – a trait desired by managers who prefer rotations among the players in the front line to make the attack fluid and unpredictable.
Although the Frenchman has not been deployed in this role by Palace managers, his time at Reading in the Championship indicated his capability of operating as a central creator.
Therefore, Pep Guardiola would take well to Olise’s versatility as he would have another option in attacking midfield despite having abundant depth in this department. Ten Hag would also take kindly to having another central creator to rotate with Bruno Fernandes, who is aging closer to 30, and Mason Mount, who is still finding his feet at United.
Is it time for Olise to move?
Many of the elite teams in Europe regularly inject their squad with youth. Therefore, recruiters are constantly chasing the best young talents in the world.
Olise has been subject to the same treatment recently, with Chelsea making a significant effort last year. The Frenchman chose to remain at Palace and continue his development, where he was bound to secure more minutes.
Although this plan has not fully worked due to regular injuries that have set him on the sidelines, Olise’s recognition that it was best for him to stay at Palace and the belief that he would be able to produce another eye-catching season reflects his unwavering confidence.
Suitors will undoubtedly be lining up in the summer this year, with the Manchester teams probably at the forefront among other big hitters.