Michael Olise won’t sign for Man Utd or Liverpool in January – but they should break the bank in the summer

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Manchester United and Liverpool have both been linked with Michael Olise - we look at what the future holds for the Frenchman.

The gossip columns have been filled with mentions of Michael Olise over the past couple of weeks – both Manchester United and Liverpool are reportedly interested in the dazzling young Frenchman whose impact and output has been growing month by month at Crystal Palace. And while he’ll surely still be at Selhurst Park by the end of this transfer window, all the signs suggest that Olise is a player worth moving heaven and earth for come the summer.

The reasons that Olise will stay put are pretty straightforward – Palace don’t want to sell the 22-year-old and tied him down to a new long-term contract as recently as August, when he killed off speculation that he would join Chelsea by committing to his current club until 2027. The odds on that commitment being seen through to the end, of course, are minimal.

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The other reason that neither United nor Liverpool are likely to buy him over the course of the next month is strictly financial – he would cost a small fortune, and both sides have already spent the vast majority of their transfer budgets. FFP regulations also prevent the managers of the clubs from simply begging their billionaire owners for more funds. To make a switch even less plausible, Palace announced on Wednesday that Olise suffered a hamstring injury in the 3-1 win over Brentford, in which the winger played a starring role and scored two of the home side’s goals. Palace aren’t saying how severe it is, but he is likely to miss the FA Cup third round game against Everton at the least.

So no, Olise won’t be leaving Palace this January – but the interest is sincere, and two of the biggest clubs in England will surely be circling him come the summer. Given the way he’s playing of late, it’s hard to blame them.

Olise has always had a ton of talent, but he isn’t simply showing flashes now – he’s demonstrating genuine, consistent excellence backed up by an impressive and rapidly improving end product. He has scored five Premier League goals this season, already more than he managed in total in his first two years at the club, and that’s a result of a more aggressive mindset and better movement off the ball.

When he first joined Palace, he probably wouldn’t have spotted the opening for the late run to the back post that allowed him to ghost through the Brentford defence to turn Jordan Ayew’s cross home for the equaliser. Nor, perhaps, would he have shown the composure to wriggle his way into enough space for his second, even if he always had the deftness of touch required to do it. And while he’s never lacked for flair, it’s hard to imagine him having the audacity and self-belief required to score his screamer against Luton Town. He has developed into a very dangerous player indeed.

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There are still some areas to improve – his final ball isn’t as accurate as it could be and he gives the ball away a little too frequently – but he’s very close to being right up there with the best right wingers in the league. That also happens to be a position that’s a major problem for Manchester United, and will soon become an issue for Liverpool, too.

United will not maintain their patience with Antony for much longer. For £86m, they have somehow bought one of the least impactful wingers in the division, and the Brazilian has yet to register a single goal contribution for the club. It’s evident that they need a replacement, and someone who has the skill and spark to breathe some life back into a flatlining forward three.

Olise has that in spades, but whether he’s the ideal fit may depend on whether Erik ten Hag remains in charge at Old Trafford. This season, he’s attempted to instil a more direct passing style, asking the wide forwards to push right up to the defensive line and stay wide. This has caused a ton of problems and has led to the forwards being persistently isolated from both the midfield and each other, and also isn’t the kind of player Olise is – he’s better dropping back to midfield to pick the ball up before he carries it quickly towards goal. His ability to cut back inside and make lethal runs in at the back post means that he would connect United’s attack up much more effectively than Antony does, but he may still be a square peg in a round hole within Ten Hag’s current scheme. Whether either the manager or his strategy remain in place come next season, though, remains to be seen – and new part-owners Ineos do not have a track record of showing their managers much patience.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have a Mohamed Salah problem. It’s likely that Al-Ittihad, who made a bid reported to be worth up to £150m towards the end of the summer, will come back with an even more lucrative offer for the Egyptian. He is the Saudi Pro League’s dream signing and will be 32 come the summer, meaning that now might be the ideal time to cash in and reinvest the windfall elsewhere. That will leave a yawning hole in Liverpool’s starting eleven.

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They have a couple of promising youngsters who could fill the void – Harvey Elliott has largely been played as a central midfielder by Jürgen Klopp but sparkled as a right-sided forward while on loan at Blackburn Rovers, while teenager Ben Doak could stake a claim, too, but at this point in time Olise is ahead of both of them in that position.

He isn’t going to replicate Salah’s volume of goals, of course. Very few wide forwards in the world can. The Reds would also prefer to get their hands on Kylian Mbappé (who wouldn’t?) although it remains more likely that the French superstar moves to Real Madrid when the time comes. But Olise has the guile, acceleration and quality of movement to link up really well with a dynamic forward line like Liverpool’s and one would imagine he would thrive with Trent Alexander-Arnold tearing down the flank on the overlap. He won’t be the only contender for the role, but he looks like a great fit for the team with the potential to get much better than he is even now.

Olise won’t be at Selhurst Park in 2027, whatever his contract says – he’s a class act who will inevitably take a step up before too long. And while that won’t happen in the next four weeks, he’s exactly the sort of player that United and Liverpool should keep on their shortlists over the coming months.

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