Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa could sign his new Pablo Hernandez in Reading starlet Michael Olise.
Reports back in January suggested that the Whites were very much interested in bringing the 19-year-old to the Premier League, and now it appears they are set to face significant competition in the race to sign him.
According to TEAMtalk, Ligue 1 champions Lille have put their name into the hat to take the teenager back to his native France, and with Jonathan Ikone poised for a departure, Olise features prominently on their shortlist.
The report adds that Lille hope to beat the likes of Leeds to the signing of the 19-year-old as they look to freshen their squad to try and defend their title next season.
With seven goals and 12 assists, Olise was an absolute revelation in the Championship for Reading last term, and it’s no surprise that he has earned so many reviews for both his performances and incredible technical ability.
His Reading team-mate Sam Baldock said early last year: “Michael is a real talent, he’ll get on the ball in any situation. He’s fearless, if you ask him today I’ll guarantee that he had no nerves. He’s a lively character and one who I’ve noticed a real change in the last couple of months.”
Hailed as “super talented” by Reading boss Veljko Paunović, Olise’s former Royals manager Jose Gomes added: “Michael is really special. He can see, even before receiving the ball, more options than regular players. His technical ability and speed, decision capacity is really, really good.”
His tally of 12 assists is significantly higher than anything that any of Leeds’ players produced last season, and given his ability to play as a number 10 or even out wide, he could be exactly the kind of Hernandez replacement Bielsa would love, given the manager’s penchant for putting players in a variety of roles.
Young, “fearless”, and with a real creative brain with the ability to take players on, Olise fits the bill to being a real star for Leeds just like Hernandez was at Elland Road. In fact, the young Frenchman’s 1.9 key passes were game only second behind that of Norwich City’s Emi Buendia in the entire Championship.
If Bielsa is looking for someone to be the long-term heir to Leeds’ little Spaniard, then Olise could be the man for that mission.