A Nigerian opportunity for Michael Olise

Born in England to a French-Algerian mother and a Nigerian father, Micheal Olise has the luxury of picking from a list of four countries to represent on the international stage, but he has yet to.

The 2024 Euros is in sight. Michael Olise has been overlooked from the squad list for the England and France national teams after already appearing for France youth teams at the U18 and U21 levels. It feels like an injustice when his performance for Crystal Palace in the just concluded Premier League season is considered.

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Oliver Glasner on Michael Olise:

I think everybody knows he’s a good player. He’s fit now – he has a lot of individual qualities. He is a brilliant player, a great guy, but he also benefits from other players.

Undoubted quality

Left-footed, has excellent ball striking, exceptional with his in-swinging crosses, and deadly with his dribbles, be it with a drop of the shoulder or a quick change of pace in either direction, Michael Olise ticks all the boxes of an elite modern-day winger. He can also function in the number 10 role as his team’s prime creator, leveraging his ability to pick a pass quite effectively. He was a delight for the fans of Crystal Palace to watch over the 19 games he featured in the Premier League, registering 16 goal involvements – ten goals and six assists in only 14 starts.

It is no surprise to see him linked to the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea in the market for a right winger for the upcoming season. It had surprised several football fans to see him not get called up for the Euros for France or England.

Compared to other players in his position for France and England, Michael Olise has arguably performed better than Kingsley Coman, Bradley Barcola or Jarrod Bowen. Perhaps he is a victim of the politics involved in the selection process or deemed not to have played enough minutes for his club in the previous campaign, or even a case of never being with the squad and now not being the best time to bring him in with a major competition just weeks away. Whatever the reason for his exclusion, he has enough quality to be given an opportunity, and the potential contributions he could make are enormous.

A fit for Nigeria

Following a snub from England and France, a switch of allegiance to Nigeria could be an exciting opportunity for the 22-year-old winger to represent a nation that may value his talents and offer him a chance to shine. Although Olise was also not included in the Nigeria squad list for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, sources from the Nigeria Football Federation said that Nigeria is working to arrange talks with Michael Olise as they try to convince him to represent Nigeria on the international stage.

In an environment like the Nigeria national team, he will have ample opportunity to develop into a better player and improve his game while playing a crucial role for the Super Eagles as his quality is undeniable. A unique skill set as a creative winger is not in surplus for the Nigeria national team, and he could gain some added importance if he impresses. He could establish himself as a key player, proving himself as a force to reckon with his style of play – laying off passes for teammates, creating space, hitting those curlers and reaching a new high in his career by being a mainstay for club and country. Although Michael Olise has been included in France’s 25-man list for this summer’s Olympics, this does not affect his chance of representing any other country after the Olympics.

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Michael Olise in a Nigeria shirt is a possibility Nigerians dream about – the feats he could achieve with an attack consisting of the likes of Victor Osimhen, Victor Boniface, Ademola Lookman, Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon and others. In Nigeria’s setup, most likely a 4-2-3-1, a linkup between Olise and full-back Ola Aina would be exciting as the latter overlaps and creates combination plays to unlock opposition defences with players in the half-spaces. He can thrive in the number 10 role as there are willing runners in the squad, also granting him the opportunity of combining with the centre-forward.

Nigeria fell short of success in the previous edition of the AFCON, losing to Cote d’Ivoire. Having a player like Olise in their ranks gives them an edge against other teams and could be what they need to secure titles.

After losing out on Bukayo Saka, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Olise’s Crystal Palace teammate Eberechi Eze, Nigerians do not want to entertain the possibility of missing out on another exciting talent. The event of a switch of allegiance could also bring him closer to his roots as one of them – Nigerians, representing his father’s homeland, helping him mentally and making him feel welcome.

Deciding to represent Nigeria would be an excellent choice for Michael Olise. Still, one thing is certain,  he will dazzle regardless of whichever nation he chooses to represent.

The Author

Boluwatife Adenusi

Boluwatife Adenusi is a young football writer with a dynamic insight and a love for the beautiful game. With a fresh perspective and a genuine love for the game, Boluwatife is eager to share his insights and observations with fellow football enthusiasts. Boluwatife's writing showcases a natural talent for storytelling, bringing readers an insight into culture and tactics. Follow Boluwatife Adenusi on BackPage Football for his insights on football as it is meant to be.

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