Crystal Palace youth product Francis Jno Baptiste will leave the club permanently for Swedish outfit Östersunds FK in January, subject to the subsequent passing of a medical.
Having spent six years on the club’s books, Baptiste will be known to plenty of the Palace fans who take an active interest in the goings on at the academy but at 19 and seemingly nowhere close to making his first-team debut, it’s hard to argue that a fresh start isn’t the best thing for Francis’ long-term career prospects.
Clearly a player with an eye for goal, Baptiste has netted an impressive 26 goals over the last two seasons but is clearly still well off the level deemed necessary to be considered for a place in the Premier League, with the chance to join Östersunds, an upwardly mobile if nowhere near as pressurized environment, seen as too good to turn down by the player and his representatives.
Östersunds shot to prominence in the UK after reaching the Europa League knockout stages under the guidance of Graham Potter last season; a run which saw the boss given the Swansea City job soon after. Now managed by fellow Englishman Ian Burchnall, the Swedes will be hoping to replicate recent successes with further cheap, if fruitful signings from across the continent.
Baptiste himself deserves immense credit for being open to the idea of moving abroad in search of regular first-team football rather than settling for the relative comfort of a Premier League academy. Hopefully he makes our coaches eat their words by bagging a hatful of goals in Scandinavia, proving himself to be a worthy professional in the process.
I wish him the best of luck.