It’s an exciting time for everyone associated with Crystal Palace football club, and things could be about to get even better for Patrick Vieira’s charges.
A much-needed squad overhaul has had a hugely successful start, and the French tactician has already implemented a more expansive, possession-oriented style of play in south London.
Victories over Tottenham Hotspur and reigning Premier League champions Manchester City have marked the new chapter, providing a sense of hope and optimism that had previously been absent for far too long.
Summer signings such as Odsonne Edouard, Michael Olise and Conor Gallagher have also played a pivotal part in the feel-good factor surrounding Selhurst Park, yet nothing excites supporters quite as much as a homegrown talent.
And that’s why the development of Jesurun Rak-Sakyi could make what is already shaping up to be a memorable campaign one of the best in Palace’s recent history.
After bagging eight goals and laying on a further eight assists in just 16 outings for the U18s last season, Rak-Sakyi was promoted to the U23s before taking a place on the first-team bench on three occasions.
His success with the youth sides and recognition at senior level earned him a professional contract back in April, with former boss Roy Hodgson praising the 19-year-old’s mindset while amongst experienced professionals.
“He’s dealt with it (stepping up) very well,” Hodgson said. “For such a young man, he’s shown a remarkable maturity and a remarkable sangfroid.
“I’m very pleased with him, very pleased for him and we believe at Crystal Palace that he has a big future and will get better and better.”
And despite the change of manager at the capital club’s helm, the flying winger has continued his promising development.
Vieira handed Rak-Sakyi his debut on the opening day of the campaign as a second-half substitute before finding a place for him in his next two matchday squads until the return to fitness of Olise saw the academy star drop down to the U23s.
A record of nine goals and four assists in just 12 appearances for Shaun Derry’s charges has further justified Dan Cook’s claim that the Eagles could have a “real superstar” on their hands, and given the supporters yet another reason to get excited.
With Olise’s eye-catching displays out wide attracting the attention in the opening weeks of the season, Rak-Sakyi has the potential to become the true breakout star as the campaign develops, he just needs another opportunity to shine.