PSG eye Michael Olise to replace Lionel Messi in transfer overhaul of star-studded squad

·2-min read
PSG eye Michael Olise to replace Lionel Messi in transfer overhaul of star-studded squad

Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise has been identified by Paris Saint-Germain as a potential summer target as they plan for life without Lionel Messi and Neymar.

Olise has been instrumental in helping Palace climb to safety under Roy Hodgson, and PSG have included the 21-year-old on a transfer shortlist of forward players.

Messi is expected to leave the French giants when his contract expires at the end of the season and he is reportedly in talks over a £320million-a-year move to Saudi Arabia.

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The Argentinian World Cup winner has been suspended by PSG for two weeks after making an unauthorised trip to Saudi and could have played his last game for them.

It has also been claimed in France that PSG would not stop Neymar from leaving, after fans this week gathered outside his home and called for him to be sold.

PSG’s Qatari owners want to shift away from their strategy of signing superstars to instead develop up-and-coming French talent.

Olise was born in Hammersmith to a French-Algerian mother and Nigerian father, and since March last year has represented France Under-21s.

He starred in Saturday’s 4-3 win over West Ham and Palace manager Hodgson admitted after the game that it is only a matter of time before bigger clubs start to circle. Asked if he was worried that Olise could attract interest, Hodgson replied: “If I was [chairman] Steve Parish I would be.”

Olise signed a five-year deal when he joined Palace for £8m from Reading in 2021 and it was reported last year that a £35m release clause in his contract has been removed.

His first season at Palace also attracted interest from Arsenal, but Palace have shown in the past with Wilfried Zaha that they will not cave into pressure of selling their crown jewels.

Palace could see Zaha leave on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season and they will be reluctant to lose Olise in the same summer.

For all their vast investment on star names, PSG have still not won the Champions League and rather than buying their way to glory, they are now looking to develop talent.

Olise has nine assists in the Premier League this season — only Kevin De Bruyne, Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard have more — and he fits the profile of player they are targeting.

He has scored just twice this season and Hodgson last week challenged him to improve his goal output.

“He needs to get more goals,” said Hodgson, who will hope Olise can continue his good form when Palace travel to Tottenham on Saturday.

“He’s got goals in him. But all the time he’s producing those goals, we’re more than happy with him. He’s another player I see getting better in terms of doing things we want him to do.”