Crystal Palace are set to wave goodbye to 10 members of the academy’s playing staff this summer, having decided against offering them professional contracts.
It is a time of year that can cause a fair amount of stress and frustration for young footballers all over the UK, who, after years of striving to impress their coaches from day to day, are faced with the reality of forcing their way into another club, or shifting their focus away from a life as a professional footballer altogether.
It is an annual struggle that is only set to become more common amongst the youngsters on the books of the country’s biggest clubs, where competiton for places within the first-team group is more hotly contested than ever before.
In the specific case of Crystal Palace, after years of relying on the academy players to provide a spark whenever the side was at a low ebb, our prolonged presence in the Premier League has made it extremely difficult for players to climb the ladder quickly enough to earn a regular place in Alan Pardew’s matchday plans.
As you can see each weekend, the Football League is littered with players who were on our books back in their formative years, which in some ways acts as the perfect yardstick to judge the coaching we are offering then throughout adolescence, but similarly, it raises questions over whether we may have made a mistake in letting at least one or two of them go too early, given the success they’re now enjoying elsewhere.
Hopefully, the next Wilfried Zaha or Nathaniel Clyne is just around the corner, but for now, we wave goodbye to 10 young men who have grown up wearing red and blue every day.
We wish each and every one of them the best of luck in the search for a new club ahead of the 2016/17 season. There’s certainly no lack of talent amongst them.