In The Pipeline: Hodgson has next midfield workhorse right under his nose at Palace

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been Crystal Palace’s standout star this season and had his arms full of trophies after the Eagles’ player awards ceremony last week, although the 21-year-old wasn’t the only young player to scoop a gong.

Malachi Boateng took home the Under-18s player of the season award and it seems that the midfielder could follow in Wan-Bissaka’s footsteps in the coming years, with some phenomenal stats to boast about.

At just 16 years of age, Boateng is playing way above his age level and so the fact that he stands out amongst the Under-18s speaks volumes about his quality, although his extraordinary numbers in the middle of the park and in defence speak even louder.

A central player capable of operating as a centre-back or in midfield, the youngster has played 16 games for Paddy McCarthy’s development side this season, completing 14 blocks, 39 clearances and an astounding 70 interceptions, averaging over four per game.

Clearly the starlet can read the game extremely well and has even trained with the first team this season – yet another indication of how highly he is thought of at Copers Cope.

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With Cheikhou Kouyate and Max Meyer joining in the summer, Roy Hodgson currently has a plethora of midfield options, although there is a very specific kind of player that the former England boss prefers in that area.

The aforementioned Meyer hasn’t featured nearly as often as many surely thought he would, with the legs of James McArthur and Jeffrey Schlupp chosen instead; it would seem that Boateng is exactly the kind of player Hodgson would love – someone who puts themselves about and can break up play before releasing a teammate.

Palace’s greatest strength lies in their ability to win the ball back and hit their opponents on the counter and so having players in the side who are adept at regaining possession is crucial. Boateng seems to fit the bill perfectly. Will he be Palace’s next academy star?