Crystal Palace academy man Jason Lokilo recently went in search of first-team football with French Ligue 2 side Lorient and whilst a place in the Eagles’ match-day remains the winger’s ultimate goal, he sounds pretty content having made made the decision to swap London for France in the short-term.
Having been on Palace’s books since 2015, Jason has been regularly spoken about as one of the club’s brightest young prospects but aside from a League Cup outing against Ipswich last season and a handful of pre-season appearances, he’s been given no real indication that he features in the manager’s selection headaches. That is to be expected for the most part but it is a credit to Lokilo that rather than twiddling his thumbs and waiting for a chance, he’s grabbing the bull by the horns and seeking to test himself in a new culture.
As a man of Belgian descent, Jason has already shown a willingness to embrace new challenges, joining up with Palace shortly after a seven-year association with Anderlecht. Having been born in Brussels, it’s fitting that he was with the local club from the age of nine, before taking an impressive leap of faith and signing for Palace as a 16-year-old.
Frank de Boer was on record during his incredibly short stint as Palace boss singing the wide man’s praises; a fact which highlights how high the teenager’s ceiling could be, should he be given regular games and an opportunity to grow as a professional.
Jason himself appears to have made the call to join Lorient for a host of reasons but the overriding one appears to centre around their reputation for enabling young footballers to realise their true potential. Recent Arsenal signing Guendouzi is cited as the perfect example of the heights players can reach after spending time on Lorient’s books, whilst Lokilo is also quick to point out that former Palace midfielder Yohan Cabaye spoke highly of them in his talks with Lokilo.
There is no guarantee that any young player is going to fight their way up the ladder and make it into a Premier League side based on potential alone but in Jason Lokilo, we seem to have a character who is determined to do everything he can to force Palace into giving him a shot on the big stage and that is something to be admired.