Super Eagles: NFF handed lifeline in pursuit of Premier League star

France, one of the clear favourites to go all the way in the 2024 European Championships in Germany have named their squad, and Super Eagles-eligible Crystal Palace forward Michael Olise was left out. Meanwhile, Nigeria have been handed another lifeline in their pursuit of the winger who is currently a youth international with Les Blues.

Deschamps' men are hoping to brush off their 2022 World Cup disappointment after they were beaten on penalties by Lionel Messi's Argentina in Qatar.

At EURO 2020, France were beaten by Switzerland on penalties in the round of 16.

The 22-year-old forward enjoyed a beautiful campaign in England, spearheading Palace's attack with 10 goals and 5 assists in 18 games. However, his efforts failed to convince Didier Deschamps, who has just announced his final squad on Thursday.

Super Eagles-eligible Michael Olise
Photo by Icon Sport

This opens an unexpected window of opportunity for the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to potentially lure Olise, who is eligible to play for the Super Eagles, into their national fold.

Olise: From Academy star to Crystal Palace talisman

Michael Olise's path to Premier League stardom began not with one, but three academy giants. He honed his skills at Arsenal, Chelsea (where he spent seven years before leaving at 14), and Manchester City before landing at Reading's academy in 2018.

Olise's talent caught the eye of Premier League sides, and Crystal Palace secured his signing in July 2021 after activating his £8.37 million release clause. He made his Premier League debut in September that same year, coming on as a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur. A few weeks later, Olise earned his first start for the club in a 1-1 draw against Newcastle United.

Lighting up the Premier League

Olise quickly endeared himself to the Crystal Palace faithful. Just a month into his Premier League career, he bagged his first goal for the club, becoming the youngest Crystal Palace scorer in the league since Clinton Morrison in 1998.

The 2022/23 season saw Olise continue to shine. In April 2023, he etched his name in the history books by becoming the youngest player to ever record three assists in a single Premier League match. He followed this up by becoming the first Crystal Palace player to register ten assists in a single season in May 2023.

Despite transfer rumors linking him back to Chelsea, Olise committed his future to Crystal Palace by signing a new four-year deal in August 2023.

Injury setback and return to form

Olise's promising season was unfortunately hampered by a hamstring injury in February 2024. The injury, described as “serious” by manager Roy Hodgson, saw him come off limping shortly after coming on as a substitute.

Thankfully, Olise recovered and made a successful return in April 2024. He wasted no time reminding everyone of his talent, scoring a brace in a convincing 4-0 victory over Manchester United in May 2024.

With the door closed (for now) with the French national team, the NFF has a potential opportunity. Olise's talent and recent form are undeniable, and the chance to represent Nigeria at international level could be an attractive proposition

Super Eagles-eligible Michael Olise
Photo by Icon Sport

Can Olise represent the Super Eagles?

On the international stage, however, Olise’s future still hangs in the balance. The 22-year-old midfielder plays for the French youth sides. But his future is far from being settled.

The former Reading man is eligible to play for four countries- France, England, Nigeria, and Algeria.

Olise was born in England, his father is a Nigerian, while his mother has Algerian and French roots.

According to an interview OGN conducted with a source close to Olise, he wanted to wait till the next World Cup (which was in 2022) to see if he can get a call-up from France. If he is not invited, OGN reported that he would rather play for Nigeria than any other country. 

“Olise has a certain attachment to the Nigerian team and that is why he accepted a call-up two years ago,” the source told OGN.

“He didn’t honor it due to issues and also the sack of the coach, but he still has Nigeria in mind if he does not make it with the French team.

“His talks to turn down an invitation from Algeria has led to talks of them shaming him that he can’t into the Nigerian team.

“However, I tell you, if Nigeria come calling at the right time, he will jump on it.

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Toyosi Afolayan

Toyosi Afolayan is a sports journalist who breathes life into the games we love. He loves to combine insightful analysis with historical background, creating a richer understanding of sports. Afolayan's expertise ranges from captivating narratives to live broadcasts, captivating audiences across platforms like Ojbsport, AllNigeriaSoccer, TVC Entertainment, Bounce Networks, Kwara TV, ICIR, EaglesTracker, and NFF TV. His background in History and International Studies adds depth, revealing the connections between sports, politics, and national identity.