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Patrick Vieira on South London being a hotbed of talent – and wants top youngsters to be at Crystal Palace – South London News

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Patrick Vieira believes that the South London area produces some of the best young footballing talent and says that “one way or another” they should play for Crystal Palace.

The Eagles spent £20million on refurbishing their academy, which was awarded category one status in July 2020 and was officially opened by England manager Gareth Southgate in October of last year.

Manchester United’s Jadon Sancho, Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Leicester City’s Ademola Lookman, Arsenal’s Emile Smith-Rowe and former Palace academy graduate Aaron Wan-Bissaka all grew up and were raised in the South London area.

Vieira said: “We talk a lot about Paris having some fantastic young players, but I believe South London is there as well at the same level. When you’re looking at the number of [South London] talents who are playing in the Premier League, it’s unbelievable.

“It’s exciting as well for us as a football club as I believe that those young players, one way or another, should play for Palace.”

With Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew and Cheikhou Kouyate away for the Africa Cup of Nations, there is a chance that their absence could afford some of Palace’s academy players an opportunity to step up to the first team.

Nineteen-year-old winger Jesurun Rak-Sakyi, who made his debut in the 3-0 loss at Chelsea on the opening day of the season, was photographed in first-team training in the build-up to Saturday’s FA Cup match against rivals Millwall.

“It’s always good to have those young players around the first team because when you have really good role models such as we have in our football club, it gives them an idea of how you conduct yourself as a professional player,” said Vieira.

“We know that they have talent, but at the same time, talent is not enough – it’s about how you live your professional life every day to allow yourself to succeed.

“There are three or four of them who have been quite really impressive.”

Academy youngster Jake O’Brien made the switch to League Two side Swindon Town for the rest of the season on loan.

“It’s a really good loan for him,” said Vieira. “He is ready to play men’s football. He is at a really good football club.”

PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD

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