Palace admit ‘fight’ to keep Olise with Chelsea and Manchester City keen

Roy Hodgson has admitted Crystal Palace face a fight to keep Michael Olise amid strong interest from Chelsea and Manchester City and urged the club’s hierarchy to reinforce his squad after the departure of Wilfried Zaha.

Olise is set to miss the start of the season after sustaining a hamstring injury playing for France’s Under-21s but the forward has been targeted by Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola after an excellent campaign in which he was voted Palace’s players’ player of the year having recorded 11 assists and two goals. It is understood Chelsea and City are considering a formal approach. It remains to be seen how much the 21-year-old, who joined from Reading in 2021, for £8m would cost.

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City are thought to be willing to spend up to £50m as they look to replace Riyad Mahrez after his departure for Saudi Arabia. Chelsea have been long-term admirers of Olise, who left their youth team at the age of 14. Palace, who lost Zaha to Galatasaray after he rejected a four-year contract worth £200,000 a week, are believed to be holding out for a fee significantly more than the £50m Manchester United paid for Aaron Wan-Bissaka in 2019.

Hodgson, speaking after Palace were beaten in a penalty shootout by Sevilla during their tour of the United States, said there was “slight doubt” over Olise’s future and that the chairman, Steve Parish, and sporting director, Dougie Freeman, had “a bit of work to do” to bring in signings.

“Clubs are circling around him and we are going to have a fight on our hands to make sure he stays with us,” he said. “We had two outstanding wingers who were almost the best in the league – Michael Olise on the right side and Wilf on the left. We don’t have Wilf anymore. We’ve lost five senior players from last season and brought one in – Jefferson Lerma; he’s good and we’re happy to have him in – but there is still that hole of five senior players in the squad, two of whom were two of the real stars of the team.”

Hodgson added: “There’s a bit of work for the chairman and sporting director to do between now and the end of August, because the team we put out today was in our opinion, at this moment in time, our best team, but we don’t have the strength behind that team that we had last year.”

Palace are set to sign the Brazilian forward Matheus França from Flamengo in a deal worth up to £26m, with the 19-year-old expected to complete his move this week. But Eberechi Eze has not signed an extension to his contract that expires in 2025 and there is serious interest in several of Palace’s other leading players. Liverpool are interested in the midfielder Cheick Doucouré, and the defenders Joachim Andersen and Marc Guéhi have been linked with Newcastle and Tottenham respectively.

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