Why Crystal Palace must add depth to this key position by signing this 18-year-old starlet


Why Crystal Palace should revive their interest in Rayan Ait-Nouri

Back in January, Daily Mail claimed that Crystal Palace were battling to sign left-back Rayan Ait-Nouri from Angers SCO but a deal didn’t materialize as the youngster fractured his jaw.

Ait-Nouri, 18, came through the ranks of Paris FC and Angers’ youth system and was promoted to the latter’s senior side in the summer of 2018. He made his debut in a 1-3 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the league but could not make it beyond three league appearances last season.

However, he was a regular starter this term and featured in 17 games before he fractured his jaw back in January. He had been impressive under Stephane Moulin and is one of the best young players in the country.

Rayan Ait-Nouri (R) (Getty Images)
Rayan Ait-Nouri (R) (Getty Images)

The teenager’s impressive performances also earned him a call up to the French U21 squad as he made his debut in September 2019. Since then, he has made 3 appearances for the side and he has been promising.

Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson’s men have managed to return to winning ways after a 7-match winless streak that spanned from December to mid-February. A win against Watford two weeks back has lifted them to 11th position in the league standings.

Despite their short success of late, the Eagles have been inconsistent due to the lack of depth in the squad. In the centre-forward role, they have Christian Benteke and Jordan Ayew, both of whom are underperforming. Cenk Tosun was bought on loan but the Turkish international returned to Everton after picking up a season-ending injury.

Rayan Ait-Nouri (Images credit: Google)
Rayan Ait-Nouri (Images credit: Google)

At the same time, they have lacked depth in the wing-back positions. On the left side of the defence, Patrick Van Aanholt is the only player available. He has also been out of action for some time after picking up a knock and Palace were left without any backup.

Therefore, the manager should prioritize signing a left-back in the summer and Angers’ Rayan Ait-Nouri would be a viable option for the Eagles. The 18-year-old has risen quickly from the youth ranks and had established himself as Angers’ first-choice left-back despite his tender age. He has also provided 3 assists so far.

Predominantly a left-back, Ait-Nouri is capable of operating as a midfielder and also as a winger on the left. His versatility could be helpful for the Eagles once he gains experience.

The French U21 international has shown glimpses of developing into an all-round player, working tirelessly at both ends of the pitch. And under proper guidance, he can become a Premier league material.

Rayan Ait-Nouri (R) (Getty Images)
Rayan Ait-Nouri (L) (Getty Images)

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Palace have a depleted squad of just 21 members and they are in dire need of depth and quality. And the manager should look to bring in reinforcements so that there would be players to cover for every position throughout the new season.

Therefore, they should reignite their interest in Ait-Nouri and make a move for him in the summer to add competition to Van Aanholt.