Crystal Palace saw one of their star talents sold by the administrators last month in Victor Moses. The tricky winger, who can also play upfront, was being linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe including Arsenal, Real Madrid and Barcelona. While those Spanish moves didn’t materialise he linked up with the next best thing from Catalonia – Roberto Martinez at Wigan Athletic. But another youngster from Selhurst Park turned down a move away which has earned him cult status in South London at the age of just 18. His name is Nathaniel Clyne.
The young right-back, who is able to play on the other flank due to his versatility, refused the offer to speak to Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers despite his club accepting a bid believed to be in the region of £700,000. His manager, Neil Warnock, was devastated this offer was accepted as he believed it was a third of what Nathaniel was worth. He was equally delighted the Stockwell-born youngster turned down the chance of playing in the top-flight. It must be noted that Clyne’s agent is a family member – and this would have had a major bearing on the decision. He should be applauded for his loyalty to the club that gave him his chance during their time of need.
The England under-19 international broke onto the scene with The Eagles on October 18 2008 in a three-nil victory over Barnsley. He was an instant hit with the fans because of his speed, strength and ability on the ball. And it is not just the Selhurst faithful who have been impressed. In January 2009, Steve Claridge wrote in his scouting report for the Guardian:
“He has all the natural material a young player needs: exceptionally quick, strong in stature and confident in his own ability. He was positive in possession, rarely passing the ball back or sideways and always looking to play up field, threading balls to his forwards and when they needed to keep the ball later in the game he played little one-twos with his winger around his opponent.
“Clyne keeps the ball moving when in possession, which means he is rarely caught on the ball and always has an angle to play a pass. At times he is so confident of his pace that he almost got too tight to his marker, offering the carrot of a ball over the top. But he is so quick he very rarely did get caught out by this brazen style of defending.”
The full-back won the Palace young player of the year award in 2009, ahead of other talents such as Moses, Sean Scannell and Lee Hills. His impact was such that he was soon offered a new three-year contract. His only goal for Palace came earlier this season in a win away at Reading.
Warnock has also expressed his opinion that Clyne will play for a top-four club one day. That is very high praise indeed and must mark the composed full-back out as a Premier League star in the making.