If you’ve kept an eye on Crystal Palace’s academy prospects over the last year or so, there’s a good chance you’ll have heard the name of Francis Baptiste. The teenager caused quite a stir by scoring 15 times for the Eagles’ U18 team last season and now, it sounds as though he may be a January transfer target for Swedish club Östersund.
Famed for being the place that current Swansea City boss Graham Potter made his name, Östersund are renowned for identifying talented players long before the rest of the market has caught on and in Baptiste, it seems they have stumbled across someone they like a great deal.
Current club boss Ian Burchnall has said that Francis is “one of many names they are currently working on” suggesting that a deal is currently in the pipeline rather then just being discussed at boardroom level. It goes without saying that Palace would be loathe to lose a player of Baptiste’s potential permanently, with a loan the most likely outcome for the 19-year-old.
If he does take the plunge and agree to a temporary switch across Europe, the long-term benefits to his prospect of making it in the Palace first-team could be huge. Players often head out on loan in the knowledge that they’re nowhere near the manager’s thoughts but should Francis be able to flourish in a completely new footballing environment, you can be sure that Roy Hodgson and his coaching staff will sit up and take notice.
Hodgson already has a wealth of contacts within the Scandinavian game, having managed extensively over there in his younger days; adding further fuel to these emerging rumours. My personal opinion is that a short-term spell with Östersund could be great for Baptiste, if of course he is keen to give it a whirl.