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'I'm an Arsenal coach who worked with Michael Olise at Tottenham - it's good he didn't sign'

Michael Olise of Crystal Palace looks on during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park on April 6, 2024
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)


Arsenal U21s manager Mehmet Ali once suggested he was relieved Michael Olise did not join Tottenham Hotspur when he worked with the Crystal Palace forward.

Olise is one of the most in-demand players in the Premier League, having been linked with Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and the Gunners. The £60million rated Palace forward, who is currently eligible to play for France and England, looks set to become one of the transfer sagas of the summer.

However, there was a time when Spurs had the 22-year-old in the palm of their hands. Ali would know, as he watched the left-footed midfielder's trial at Tottenham.

Few coaches would understand Olise's game better than Ali, as he nurtured his talent when he was with Olise at Reading. In an interview with Berkshire Live in 2022, Ali was asked about his time working with the Crystal Palace talisman.

Spurs had the perfect opportunity to make Olise their man when he was in their youth team. Olise had left Chelsea as a youngster and was handed a trial at Spurs.

Ali was at the club when the now 22-year-old strutted his stuff in front of the Spurs scouts. Many years after the club decided not to sign Olise, Ali admits that decision, however disappointing it may have been for the winger at the time, may have worked out well for him.

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"He has always been a talent," Ali said while he was the manager of Reading U23s. "He was at Chelsea until U14s and he actually went on trial to Manchester City and Tottenham, and I was at Tottenham at the time.

"You could see he was a very talented young man and with him, it was always his mindset and character to be able to cope with the top level. But as he's getting older and maturing he's doing that.

"The Reading academy staff deserve so much credit. Reading took him in as an under 14 and did great work with him. Everyone at Reading deserves a lot of credit for helping Michael on his journey so it's not a surprise to see him do well.

"Who's to say if he did sign for Tottenham then would he have had the journey he's had? Every individual is different and there is no right or wrong pathway."

Olise spent seven years in the Arsenal academy systems between 2009 and 2016. When his trial at Tottenham did not work out, he moved into the Chelsea youth system, before joining Manchester City one year later.

He would go on to make his name at Reading, where he was reunited with Ali in the U23s team. Patrick Vieira then made Olise his first signing as Crystal Palace manager in the summer of 2021, snapping him up for a bargain £8m. He is now expected to join one of the Premier League's best teams for £60million after scoring 10 goals and registering six assists in just 19 games.