Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Michael Olise – Where next?

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Given the level of some of his performances this season, it feels somewhat strange to say Crystal Palace paid less than €10 million to sign Michael Olise from Reading three years ago. It has certainly proven a bargain signing for the Eagles, who will possibly cash in five or six times as much for his services this summer.

When great Premier League wingers today are discussed, the left-footed ones who predominantly play on the right, the name of Mohamed Salah rightly stands out, and there are much younger ones, like Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka, who also deserve to be in such conversations. However, at the age of 22, Olise is arguably right up there with the latter two, even though he hasn’t yet had the chance to prove his quality on the great stage that Champions League football sets. It appears he has already outgrown Palace, with all due respect to the South London club, who will again be happy with staying well away from relegation battle and nothing more, despite the fantastic run of form they’ve been on lately.

It comes as no surprise that Olise has a number of options when it comes to taking the next step in a promising career.


Last summer, Chelsea reportedly triggered the £35m release clause in Olise’s contract, taking the matter out of Palace’s hands, but only to get snubbed by the player himself who reinforced his commitment to his current club by signing a new four-year deal. There is still a release clause, but it’s now believed to be worth between £50m and £60m.

Olise’s decision to turn down a move to Stamford Bridge has turned out to have been a good one. The London Blues made a number of big-money signings, such as midfielders Moises Caicedo from Brighton and Hove Albion and Romeo Lavia from Southampton, as well as forwards Nicolas Jackson from Villarreal and Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig. All excellent players in their own right, but manager Mauricio Pochettino has so far failed to turn his talented squad into a cohesive unit and deliver desired results. His team is now fighting tooth-and-nail to qualify for Europe, with the Champions League far out of their reach, and had Olise joined them, he arguably wouldn’t have made much difference. He has the level of quality required, but the same can be said of many who do wear the blue shirt.

Chelsea could reportedly reignite their interest this summer, but with their participation in Europe and Pochettino’s future at the club still uncertain, it’s hard to imagine Olise giving them an answer they’d like.

Manchester United

Manchester United are another team that have had an underwhelming season, and like Chelsea, they won’t be playing in the Champions League in 2024/25. The spell of Erik ten Hag in charge in the Old Trafford dugout appears to be drawing to its end, with several reports claiming the 20-time English champions have already decided to sack the former Ajax boss at the end of the season.

That decision appears to have come in the light of United’s latest defeat, incidentally, at the hands of Crystal Palace, in a game where Olise showed the full extent of his talent with two superb goals. One of the names listed as potential candidates to replace Ten Hag is former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, who is approaching the end of time at Bayern Munich.

Be it Tuchel or any other manager in charge at United next season, the need for major changes in the playing personnel are evident. It’s strange how many signings, at first glance smart or at least bombastic, United have managed to turn into failures over the last couple of years. A huge fee was paid to bring Antony in from Ajax and his impact has been nowhere near expected. Casemiro and Raphael Varane came from Real Madrid as proven winners, multiple Champions League winners, and their respective spells at United have been nothing short of disastrous.

There are no quick fixes here, and as is the case with Chelsea so it is with Manchester United. Olise surely won’t want to go somewhere where there’s no stability of any kind, despite reports suggesting United would not be put off by the prospect of paying his current release clause to make it happen.


It’s a very different story for Arsenal, who have also been credited with interest in the Crystal Palace star. Mikel Arteta has been doing a fine job there for years now, and this is the second season running his team have pushed Manchester City hard for the Premier League title.

The Gunners do have a top team at the moment, though questions have been raised about their depth, and that’s something the proposed arrival of Olise would help address.

There can be very little doubt about Arsenal challenging for the title again next season, and their project is one where Olise’s input would be valuable. On the other hand, from his own perspective, he would be competing against Saka for the spot on the right attacking flank, and unless Saka, obviously a fully established player at Arsenal at same age as Olise, suffers a notable dip in form or a long-term injury, it’s hard to imagine him being displaced from Arteta’s favourite lineup.


It seems Salah will be going nowhere this summer. Liverpool are said to be confident about the Egyptian staying at Anfield at least for a season more.

But time isn’t on Salah’s side. He’ll be turning 32 next month, which is about the time when his contract enters its final 12 months, and as brilliant as he has been under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have to find a way to prepare for a future without him, even if he signs a new deal.

And this is, perhaps, the best situation for Olise, to come in initially as an understudy for a proven top-class player. The pressure to deliver straight away would surely be far less from that perspective, giving him time to adapt to the new surroundings and really soak up on the tactical demands of Arne Slot – the man set to take over from Klopp at the end of the season.

Liverpool are practically out of the title race due to a recent slump which saw vital points drift away from them, but they unlike Chelsea or Manchester United, they are able to dangle their confirmed Champions League qualification in Olise’s face.

All in all, Liverpool would be a good option for Olise, but there are reasons why the Merseysiders haven’t really stepped up their reported interest. They’ve lately had a number of players who regularly miss large chunks of a season, and unfortunately Olise himself has had serious injury problems this term. Much money was spent on Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and much was expected from Thiago Alcantara at the club, and neither has had the expected impact through injury. Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain left the club last summer as free agents, and the same is probably going to happen with Thiago now.

So the question that imposes itself here is, can Liverpool risk signing another relatively expensive player who has missed 18 Premier League matches over two spells on the sidelines due to a troubled hamstring this term? Let’s see how serious they are on this front when the time comes.

Liverpool’s interest in Olise hasn’t been as covered in the media as that of Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal lately, but the Merseysiders regularly sign players with very little noise, so the possibility of them working behind the scenes should not be ruled out.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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