As a club noted as one of the best in London for player development, Crystal Palace has been a well-regarded development hub. Many players have left larger clubs to come to Palace, while other academy talents have stuck around or, in the case of Wilf Zaha, returned to some acclaim. The summer seen a new arrival come from Chelsea, with their own vaunted academy not offering enough first-team games for some players. This allowed Palace to win and pick up Marc Guehi, who Eagles fans must think looks like an absolute bargain at the moment.
The arrival of another young star in Michael Olise helps to pair up with an impressive young core of talented players. However, while these two signings are undoubted proof that Palace have clout in the eyes of young talent, they cannot win every case. That appears to be the issue with Zion Atta, with the 16-year-old set to depart Selhurst Park in acrimonious terms.
The player has been earmarked as one for the future, but could have seen first-team action as soon as this season. While at 16 so much can change in the development of a player, most who were close to Atta believe that he is set for absolute stardom. Much like other young talents, though, the desire to receive a large wage for a first professional contract appears to have brought to an end Atta’s time at Palace.
The Eagles were believed to have been asked to break their wage structure for a player of that age and experience. This naturally led to some discussion among fans about what this means, with some worried it was a sign of policy changing with the arrival of Patrick Vieira as manager. However, this appears to come down to other factors.
Why is Zion Atta leaving Palace?
The player is expected to be on the move for a number of reasons. However, the main reason is believed to come down to a change of agency. The player joined superagent Jorge Mendes, and the player has been convinced that making the move to the French Ligue 1 might be in his interests. OGC Nice are believed to be close to making an announcement on the player, with personal terms believed to have been agreed.
Mendes sees Nice as the ideal development club, with the team having played a role in developing several key talents in Ligue 1 so far. The England youth international will be one of many to take their talent abroad as opposed to waiting for a chance to play in the English top flight.
Interestingly, Atta might not even play for England; the youngster has an Italian passport due to being born there, and thus could change to represent Italy in the future. The winger is one to keep an eye on in the future, but it looks like unfortunately he will take his first steps into the professional game for Nice as opposed to the Eagles.