This article is part of Football FanCast’s In The Pipeline series, which takes a look at some of the most promising young talent either linked with clubs or emerging from their academies…
Crystal Palace prospect Kian Flanagan recently expressed his frustration at the current pace of progress through the ranks at Selhurst Park, and his comments should act as a wake-up call for the Eagles.
The 20-year-old – who was reportedly of interest to Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United back in 2015 – spoke openly about his annoyance at the fact that he is now in his fourth season of Under-23 football, and called on the Eagles to loan him out.
Flanagan said: “This is our fourth U23 season. We really shouldn’t be here this season. We should be out on loan, honestly.”
Attacking midfielder Flanagan – who won the Under-23 Player of the Season award last year – may not get an immediate first-team place anytime soon given the fact that even Max Meyer can’t get into Roy Hodgson’s starting XI on a regular basis – the German started just 15 league games last term and has just two league starts this season.
However, another youngster who plays in a problematic position at Selhurst Park does deserve an opportunity and Flanagan’s comments should serve as a warning for the Eagles in potentially scuppering his development – we’re talking about Brandon Aveiro.
With the exciting 17-year-old forward three years younger than the attacking midfielder, Palace must be aware of the perils of allowing the goalscoring talent to sleepwalk into the same frustration, when he could arguably be having an impact at first-team level or indeed learning out on loan.
The Portuguese forward – who was called up to Portugal’s Under-18 training camp this year – scored a hat-trick against Watford just a week after signing his first professional contract with the Eagles back in March.
Aveiro – who is reportedly on Benfica’s radar – followed that performance up by hitting four goals in one game against Birmingham, having earned his call-up to the Under-23s after scoring 14 and assisting 10 for the Under-18 side.
Of course, Aveiro should not immediately be thrown in ahead of Jordan Ayew and Christian Benteke, but the fact that the duo scored just two league goals between them last term proves there are problems in attack for Palace.
Having already demonstrated his potential and attracted interest from a major European club, perhaps Aveiro can provide a solution, whether that’s from the bench or eventually dislodging one of the aforementioned duo after being integrated into the senior squad.
But if Palace continue to overlook their academy prospects by not carving out clear paths for them and instead letting them fester with the U23s, Aveiro will become another talent that goes to waste.
It must have taken Flanagan a lot to openly speak out against his situation and ultimately his employers – that in itself proves Palace need to act on what he’s said.
Perhaps a loan move first makes more sense, instead looking ahead to next season when Benteke’s contract expires. But either way, that career trajectory needs to be established before Aveiro ends up being yet another frustrated Palace prospect.