Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s rapid rise to prominence has taken many both inside and outside the Crystal Palace bubble by surprise in recent weeks but as the youngster and his teammates prepare to take on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool next weekend, this piece examines the reasons why his recent form is far more than just a flash in the pan.
Whilst the 20-year-old was selected by previous boss Frank de Boer to take part in Palace’s pre-season tour of Asia last summer, few if any expected him to play anything like as big a role in the first-team squad during the 2017/18 campaign. Although he was always earmarked as a talent by the club’s coaches, it was necessity that forced Roy Hodgson to give him a chance in the starting XI against Tottenham; an opening that the winger turned full-back grabbed with both hands.
After relying on Joel Ward, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Martin Kelly to fill in on the right-hand side of the back four prior to Bissaka’s Premier League bow, Hodgson now appears to have elevated the academy man to the top of the pecking order and will surely keep him in the line-up this coming weekend too.
Statistically, the start he’s made to life as a professional has been truly startling, matching the best in the Premier League in terms of interceptions, blocks and tackling accuracy over his first four games. There will be some who openly question his chances of producing performances of this quality in the long-term but after facing the likes of Spurs, Manchester United and Chelsea so early on in his career, it’s hard not to feel as though he has an incredibly bright future stretching out ahead of him.
After bringing through the likes of Victor Moses, Sean Scannell, Jonathan Williams, Nathaniel Clyne and Wilfried Zaha over the course of just a few years, the Palace academy has endured something of a barren spell in terms of youth development since 2010 but in Bissaka, we appear to have a talent who is capable of making a real name for himself in years to come.
There’s nothing quite like seeing one of your own making a mark in the professional game, let’s just hope Aaron’s success paves the way for one or others from the U23 side to follow in his footsteps in the not too distant future.