Crystal Palace’s record of developing first team talent – particularly wide players – has been admirable, with Wilfried Zaha, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Nathaniel Clyne all making names for themselves after graduating from the Eagles’ academy.
Most recently, left-back Tyrick Mitchell has become a first team regular, while Jeserun Rak-Sakyi has become one of the most promising young players in England after his sensational performances this season at under-23 level.
However, one player who could have an excellent career but was let go too soon by Palace is Watford winger Kwadwo Baah, who has become a three-time Germany under-19 international, scoring twice.
After leaving the Eagles aged just 14, the winger moved to Rochdale, where he quickly established himself as a member of the first team despite his young age, playing in seven games during the 2019/20 season, before making five goal contributions in 30 league games in the following campaign.
After Baah first broke into the Rochdale first team, his then-manager Brian Barry-Murphy said: “His talent is exceptional and he’s someone we’re very excited about for the future.
“He’s made a huge impact on the squad already and now he’s working hard behind the scenes with the Youth Team and the Integration Squad to get fully in sync with how we do things at the Club.
“He’s a very special talent and someone who has been asked to play an extraordinary number of minutes because of the situation of our squad over Christmas and New Year.”
The 19-year-old is not yet nearing a return to action, having suffered another ankle injury last week in training, but the latest setback may not keep him out of action for too long.
Valued at £720k, Palace chairman Steve Parish will be frustrated that a talented young player with youth caps at international level for Germany, as well as England, was released for nothing, while the Selhurst Park faithful will have been gutted to see him go.
Baah will always remain a cult hero among Palace fans regardless of what team he represents, as he once stopped then-West Ham keeper Adrian from time-wasting in a match against the Eagles by running onto the pitch as ball boy and putting the ball on the goal-kick line himself.