Arsenal are reportedly ready to push through with their initial interest by lodging a firm bid for Crystal Palace star Michael Olise.
The midfielder only signed for Palace last summer when the Eagles triggered a £8.75m exit clause in his Reading deal. However, he has hit the ground running in the Premier League, scoring four goals and providing nine assists so far this season.
As a result, a number of big-name Premier League sides have all taken note of Olise’s form, including Arsenal and Chelsea.
Any move from Arsenal is likely to be of particular interest to Bukayo Saka. Indeed, the in-form Arsenal star knows Olise very well, having battled with him as a youngster all the way back in their youth days.
The Daily Mail, who have widely documented Mikel Arteta’s interest, have now managed to speak to Olise’s youth coach, Michael Richards.
Richards was Olise’s coach during his formative years at Hayes Under-7s. He would regularly come up against Saka, who was the starring for Greenford Celtic just five miles down the road.
He claims he could always see Olise was a special talent, purring at the way he would glide around the pitch.
Richards hailed both players, suggesting they were ‘exceptional’. Furthermore, he says the pair were clearly far above anybody else on the pitch even as youngsters.
“It was basically the Michael and Bukayo show. You could see that both of them were exceptional, far above everyone else,” said Richards.
And that rivalry has carried right through with the pair now starring for in the Premier League.
However, that could soon change with Arteta reportedly keen to bring Olise to Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners boss has crafted a hugely-talented young squad, with Saka one of several bright young stars. Indeed, Aaron Ramsdale, Gabriel, Ben White, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and Kieran Tierney are all under-25. And Arteta’s vision looks set to be rewarded with a top-four finish.
International battle on for Michael Olise
Olise also finds himself at the centre of a battle on the international front.
Olise’s loyalty is currently with France, whom he has represented at Under 18 level, but that is not deterring Southgate. The FA have already started talks in the hope of securing him, but the player is said to be leaning towards France.
A report in the Daily Mail has said a tug-of-war has started and at this stage France are in the box seat. Nigeria and Algeria are also in the mix but it looks to be a straight scrap between France and England.
Olise was born in London but his father is Nigerian and his mother French-Algerian., which gives him plenty of options.
The 20-year-old last played for the France Under 18s three years ago. As such, the door has been left open for England to nip in.