A trickster

It has been quite the journey for Yannick Bolasie and the upward trajectory looks set to continue, having kicked on impressively at Crystal Palace this season. By Simon Peach.

Yannick Bolasie has been given a licence to thrill at Crystal Palace — and his unorthodox rise shows no signs of abating. In just seven years, the winger has gone from non-league Hillingdon Borough to the Premier League, via Malta and a host of Football League clubs.

It has been quite the journey for Bolasie and the upward trajectory looks set to continue, having kicked on impressively at Palace this season. The 25-year-old winger was the outstanding player in a recent goalless draw at Tottenham, with his direct style and skills bamboozling defenders at White Hart Lane.

“I try to enjoy the game and the manager has given me a little bit of licence to enjoy myself,” Bolasie said. “I am also getting help from my team-mates and the positions I am picking up on the pitch are allowing to run at other teams.

“You have to have an end product but credit to the whole team, the likes of Mile Jedinak, Joe Ledley — they are giving me the licence.”

So impressive has Bolasie been that Liverpool are reported to be amongst the vultures circling over Selhurst Park. Palace boss Neil Warnock, who attempted to sign the Democratic Republic of Congo international when at QPR, has warned off potential suitors.

“He won't be going anywhere in January. No chance,” Warnock said. “He’s a great lad. Top clubs won’t know what he can do and what he can’t do. How can they come in for him?

“I think he’s made to measure for Palace. That type of club, the stage, the fans. It’s can he keep the consistency now?”

The good news for Warnock and Palace fans is that the winger says he has no intention of leaving. “I am happy at Palace,” Bolasie said. “It is all about progressing. I am improving every week at Palace. I want to make sure I have another good season and keep Palace up.

“If we play like that every week (we will stay up). Spurs are a top club and if we play like this against teams like Stoke, we will be okay.”

Palace were unfortunate to leave White Hart Lane without all three points after such a dominant display. Bolasie was a constant threat for the visitors and left spectators open-mouthed with an exquisite flick past Christian Eriksen in the first half.

Images of what he describes as “a 360 and a flick” went viral online and his skill comes from his unique upbringing, a far cry from statistic-focused modern football.

“I used to do it in the playground at school,” Bolasie, inspired by Ronaldinho, said. “It was a trick from back then. When you don’t do tricks they become unfamiliar but because my confidence is high, I feel I can do anything.

“It is good to express yourself in the Premier League. It will only get tougher as the opposition will look at me and take me even more seriously. It is a credit to myself and the hard work I am doing, it is starting to come off.”

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