Wilfried Zaha has long been linked with a move away from Crystal Palace, but if he does depart Selhurst Park this summer, Patrick Vieira may already have the Ivorian’s heir in Malcolm Ebiowei.
The 18-year-old joined from Derby County earlier in the summer and has already caught the eye with some of his performances in pre-season.
Last season saw the teenager make 16 appearances in the Championship for the Rams, in which he contributed one goal and two assists, earning a strong 6.85 rating from WhoScored for his performances.
While Vieira has a plethora of options out wide, including fellow young talents Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise, Ebiowei will definitely be aiming to challenge for a first-team spot next season.
The youngster would have some significant boots to fill if Zaha were to leave this summer, but he appears to have a huge amount of potential, and Vieira will be hoping that the teenager can adapt to the Premier League quickly after some impressive displays in the second-tier last season.
Can Ebiowei be Zaha’s heir?
Derby coach Justin Walker was full of praise for Ebiowei last season, saying: “I think he has been a breath of fresh air. You can see how much the fans have warmed to him, he gets people out of their seats. He has got that little bit of X-factor, if you like, that creativity we have lacked at times in the final third.
“The only thing probably missing from his game is a goal, but I am sure that will come. He has got so much talent, and more importantly his attitude and his character.”
Roma are reportedly keen on signing Zaha this summer, and considering that he has just one year left on his contract at Selhurst Park, this could be the time that he finally leaves.
Last season saw the former Manchester United winger contribute an impressive 14 goals in 33 Premier League appearances, averaging a strong 6.99 rating from WhoScored for his performances, which ranked him as the second-best player in Vieira’s squad.
WhoScored suggests that both Zaha and Ebiowei excel at dribbling, while they both like to play short passes and they get fouled often, which suggests that the 18-year-old could eventually step up as the Ivory Coast international’s successor at Selhurst Park.
AND in other news: Vieira given green light for “phenomenal” Crystal Palace signing, it’d be a major coup