The season has ended in tears for the Crystal Palace wonderkid, but he’s made a big impact on the Premier League nonetheless
Eberechi Eze has captured the imagination in his maiden Premier League season, even if the year has ended with an Achilles injury that threatens to keep him out until 2022.
It’s a horrific blow for the youngster, for whom a potential eight months on the sidelines represents a significant setback to his progress.
The 22-year-old was a dazzling star in the Championship for Queens Park Rangers last term, netting 14 goals and registering eight assists—terrorising defences in the process.
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Understandably, in the Premier League, he hasn’t made the same impact—not least because he’s played 1,500 fewer minutes than he did last season.
He’s had a hand in 10 goals—slightly less then one every three games—scoring four and registering six assists.
Admittedly, there have been games where Eze has struggled to influence proceedings, although glimpses of excellence—notably against Sheffield United earlier this month—have set him out as one of the league’s most exciting talents.
In this week’s Hot Seat, however, Goal Africa writer Oluwaseye Omidiora has expressed his belief that the attacker—who is eligible for both England and Nigeria—was being shackled by Palace head coach Roy Hodgson.
For Omidiora, the coach’s conservative style—and potentially even a lack of ambition from the club—meant that Eze may not reach his full potential in South London.
With Hodgson moving on, however, we have reached a new dawn at Selhurst Park.
It could go either way; the experiment with Frank de Boer in 2017 ended in tears—and a relegation battle—but there’s definitely potential in the Eagles squad if they can appoint the right man to help them evolve as other clubs have done.
For Omidiora, the departure of Hodgson ought to be a point of celebration for Eze, even if their will be some debt owed to the departing coach.
However, the attacker’s long-term injury doubtless casts a shadow over his immediate future—and longer-term development—with the Eagles.
His international future, which could potentially have emerged as a hot topic before the year’s end, is now off the agenda.
The forward could represent either England or Nigeria, with the latter understood to be actively pursuing him.
The Three Lions’ European Championship squad would have come too soon for the youngster, particularly considering the competition in the team, but could Eze have pushed for the Eagles’ 2022 Africa Cup of Nations squad?