Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira has a number of exciting young talents at his disposal, including the likes of first team duo Michael Olise (20) and Marc Guehi (21) who have both had an excellent season so far.
In the academy, Scottish winger Scott Banks has been earmarked to be given more opportunities with the first team, while talented England under-20 international Jesurun Rak-Sakyi has had an incredible season of development with the under-23 team.
The winger has just been nominated for the Premier League 2 Player of the Month award for February after scoring twice against Brighton and once against Tottenham, helping the under-23 team to remain unbeaten over the course of the month.
This season, the former Chelsea youngster has scored an incredible 15 goals and set up three more in just 21 appearances with Palace’s under-23s, and it is surely nearing time for him to be given a proper chance in the first team by Vieira.
The Frenchman is known to be a big fan of the 19-year-old, and after giving him his debut against Chelsea off the bench at the start of the season, the Eagles manager said: “He’s a good dribbler, can score goals as well so I wanted him to be a bit higher on the field, but he spent most of the time behind the ball defending. He’s a young, talented player and we have to work with him to try to help him.”
Rak-Sakyi – who has also been described as a “fantastic talent” by the 45-year-old – may well draw comparisons to Wilfried Zaha with his superb technical ability, flair and athleticism, and the 6 foot teenager has developed into a prolific goalscorer at youth level.
In January, top-flight clubs from Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal were reportedly keen on taking him on loan for the rest of the season, along with clubs in the EFL Championship.
However, with Palace not too far away from mathematically securing their Premier League status for next season, and having scored one more goal than they have conceded, the final few games of the season could present Vieira the chance to give Rak-Sakyi some game-time in the top flight – perhaps even from the start.
If the teenager can make the transition to the first team, he could save the Eagles several million quid in the transfer market by eliminating the need to sign a young attacking prospect, with the 19-year-old already having that box ticked.