Football

‘Training with Zaha, Bolasie toughened me' – Crystal Palace’s Wan-Bissaka



The 21-year-old has made more successful tackles in Europe’s big leagues than any other player

Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka says training with Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie – on loan to Anderlecht from Everton – has made him a better player.

The defender who was promoted to the first team of Palace in January 2018 was handed his senior debut by Roy Hodgson a month later and has been impressive ever since.

The youngster is currently the best tackler in Europe’s big leagues having made more successful tackles [66 of 91] than any other player in the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1.

Wan-Bissaka’s brilliance has helped the Eagles keep nine clean sheets in 25 League games this season to be placed 14th in the log with 26 points.

The 21-year-old, who started his career as a winger, has lauded the Cote d’Ivoire and Congo DR stars for helping him.

“Training up against Wilf [Wilfred Zaha] and Yannick Bolasie toughened me up,” Wan-Bissaka told the Guardian.

“When I was younger my playing style was like Wilf’s, so that sort of gave me a heads-up, but he’s still a tricky one.

“As an ex-winger, you get a sense of what they’re trying to do: which way they might go, how they’re thinking. You can anticipate things easier.

“When Roy Hodgson changed my timetable to full-time with the first team, I knew I was making progress.”

Wan-Bissaka has featured for DR Congo’s Under-20 in a friendly game before representing England at the Under‑21 level.

The right-back is eligible to play for the Central Africans as well as England at the senior level and he is keeping his options open.

“Yannick spoke to me about Congo, and it was an option, but my parents said they’d support me either way.”

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“As a kid, playing for my country was a dream. It would be such a huge honour.”

Wan-Bissaka will be looking to make his 25th league appearance for Crystal Palace this season when they play host to West Ham United on Saturday.



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