Michael Olise’s future: Why Reading teenager can be a Premier League star

With the help of exclusive insight from the man who gave him his debut and an experienced team-mate, we analyse the potential of Reading teenager Michael Olise - Watch Reading vs Blackburn live on Sky Sports Football from 7.30pm on Tuesday; Kick-off 8pm

Reading's Michael Olise
Image: Reading's Michael Olise has been one of the standout stars of the Championship season

Jose Gomes worked with some extremely gifted players during his time at Porto but the former Reading manager becomes animated at the thought of young Michael Olise.

"We are talking about a player who will bring people to the stadium," he tells Sky Sports. "It is impossible not to feel happiness when watching his movements and his technical ability.

"He loves to play football and he has the courage to try magical things even in tight areas. Things that some players cannot even do in training, he will do them in a game."

Now 19, the boy Gomes rewarded with a professional debut in 2019 is fast becoming a man, attracting the attention of the Premier League's biggest clubs. Only Emiliano Buendia has provided more Championship assists than Olise, each of them from that sweet left foot.

A career at the top end of the game seems inevitable for the Hammersmith-born France U18 international but that might yet come sooner rather than later - with Reading.

Victory at home to Blackburn on Tuesday evening will further cement their place among the Championship top six. Olise's role in that has been pivotal.

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Whether operating on the right wing and cutting inside or entrusted with a central role, as he was in Reading's hard-fought win over Rotherham on Saturday, he is the creator. Michael Morrison scored the winner but he recognises the importance of Olise to the team.

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"He is really mobile and he moves the ball really well," Morrison tells Sky Sports. "This season he has taken his game on to another level. He has added consistency to his game, becoming a key player for what we are trying to do at Reading."

Michael Olise's chances created for Reading this season

Gomes is not surprised but there is an awareness too that the teenager's path has not been a smooth one. He arrived at Reading after spells in the academy at Chelsea and Manchester City. Some wonder what they must have missed. Others have questioned his attitude.

Even now, there are incidents. Olise appeared to react to his manager Veljko Paunovic after giving the ball away late on in the win over Bristol City and was promptly substituted. A quieter couple of performances followed before his return to form at Rotherham.

Former Reading favourite Stephen Hunt has urged Olise to channel his attitude "in the right way" and, for the most part, that is what he has done.

"Michael did not like to study," recalls Gomes. "But when I saw him play I asked the academy director if he could train with us."

It was the step that he needed to take, not that it was straightforward at such a young age. "His body was not very strong so he would lose physical challenges all the time. Others were so much stronger than him."

Fast-tracking Olise into the first team - he was only 17 years and three months old when making his debut against Leeds United - was a huge challenge but it engaged the player. Before long, he was giving regular glimpses of the quality that set him apart from the rest.

Michael Olise's passing for Reading

"I loved the speed and the technical ability that he showed. Even without space, under pressure, he was able to dribble past two or three players in a very small space. At the same time, if you give him space he is able to find the net easily with his left or even his right."

Gomes spotted the potential but it is under Paunovic that it is being realised. The skill was there but it was not until this season that Olise registered his first senior goal. Three more have followed to go with the nine assists. He is now making a real impact on matches.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Rotherham and Reading

"I had that conversation with him," says Morrison. "He had to get his numbers up. You could see he was a good player but he was not assisting enough and he was not scoring enough. He was not converting it into figures and that is what is so important."

Morrison believes that Paunovic has been key to his development.

"He is lucky to have a manager who supports him, sometimes plays him inside, sometimes plays him outside, knows when to rest him, doesn't put too much pressure on him to carry the team every week. When you have young talent like that it can be easy to overuse it.

Michael Olise's positioning for Reading this season

"The manager has also been on to him to make sure that his mentality is right and he achieves everything he can because I would say that he can be a top player in the Premier League. If he works hard now he could get a move to one of the top Premier League teams.

"I am sure he is good enough for that and I know there is a lot of interest. We are lucky to have him but he still needs that game time and this is a really good place for him to be at the moment. He is playing in a good team and I think that has really helped him. As long as he keeps his head down and works as hard as he has been doing, he can go to the very top."

Gomes agrees and regardless of whether or not Reading are able to achieve an unlikely promotion, he does not think Olise will have to wait long to play in the Premier League.

"I would not be surprised if we see Michael playing in a big team in a very short space of time," he concludes. "He is different."

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