Crystal Palace is the perfect place for Yannick Bolasie


Yannick Bolasie produced another outstanding display this evening and, as always seems to be the case, he was the decisive factor in Crystal Palace’s win over Liverpool.

Whenever Bolasie performs well and whenever he produces the kind of eye-catching moments he did today, the conversation is always the same: how much is he worth and which bigger club should he leave Palace for.

Here’s a revolutionary idea: maybe Selhurst Park is the perfect place for him?

Bolasie is a very good player who is capable of brilliant moments, but that is not the same as being consistently elite.  At his very best, he’s undeniably one of the most dynamic wingers in the Premier League and also amongst the most watchable. Given the way he plays, however, and given his brand of heavily ad-libbed excellence, it’s unlikely that he would ever be fully trusted or tolerated by any side who could afford to pay his asking price.

If he were to move to that kind of club - and that’s very much the Manchester City, United, Chelsea, Arsenal bracket - his role would likely become very sporadic and, from being an every week starter in South London, he would find himself reduced to ‘impact player’ status.

That’s not ideal for any player, but especially so for this one.

So much of the positive impact that Bolasie is able to have on the pitch is rooted in his self-belief. The tricks he does and his willingness to take-on isolated defenders are both symptoms of not only continual selection, but also the player’s ease with his surroundings. At a bigger club with greater competition for places, it’s reasonable to assume that his propensity to take risks on the ball - something upon which his impact is reliant - would recede in favour of something more high-percentage and coach-pleasing.

That’s how inhibition works: give a player reason to doubt himself and watch him retreat into a comfort zone.

What a Crystal Palace player is can’t really be defined, because clubs’ identities evolve all the time, but Bolasie definitely blends well with the current background. There’s something about the way that he plays which matches up with the team’s place in the hierarchy. Yes, that’s a flimsy argument built on indescribable factors, but some players just seem to suit certain environments - and Selhurst Park, for whatever unquantifiable reason, is home for him.

Maybe this is the re-emergence of that old truism about maverick players. Unorthodox talent needs to exist within the right context and when it does ultimately flourish, which Bolasie’s has, everything needs to be done to maintain the environment which has allowed it to do so. Removing it and transplanting into a different set of circumstances rarely seems to be an exact science and it can almost appear as if the ability is somehow precious and in need of constant incubation.

Maybe that’s all wrong? Maybe given the opportunity to play at the very top of the division, Bolasie would mature into something truly wonderful.


At a guess, though, he’s in exactly the right place. Whatever opportunities come his way this Summer, he would be smart to remember what has allowed him to get to this point.

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