Yesterday brought news that Crystal Palace academy star had signed a professional contract with the club that will keep him on the books until 2022; a period that *should* see the 18-year-old become a fully fledged first-team player.
Professional contracts are often handed to teenagers in the hope of them progressing rapidly and providing a bit of depth to the already well-established first-team regulars but in Kirby, we have something of a spcial case on our hands. Having been with us since February of 2017, the former Tottenham starlet has always seemed destined for big things, with his performances in an England shirt hinting at the potential his game possesses.
As a central midfielder, Nya has a number of extremely talented teammates to outshine if he is to get minutes in Roy Hodgson’s side but in terms of natural ability, there can be no question over whether or not he’s got what it takes to force his way through with a little patience.
Of course, breaking into an established Premier League XI isn’t straightforward for any player, indeed defensive star Aaron Wan-Bissaka was only given the chance to shine thanks to an injury crisis in early 2018, meaning Kirby is going to have to graft extremely hard to earn his stripes. As things stand, a loan move (probably in January) seems like the obvious next step for the teenager, who aside from his obvious talent, needs to get to grips with the grind of regular first-team football one way or another.
Immensely comfortable with the ball at his feet, you only need to watch Kirby play once or twice to realise why the coaches at Palace are so excited about him. It’s rare to get players as technically proficient whilst still in their teenage years, making the decisions we take for his development in the next 12-18 months all the more pivotal to his long-term chances of success.
It’s fair to say there’s a rather large buzz around the young man, now it’s up to both he and those behind the scenes at Palace to ensure that his potential is harnessed correctly.