BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Charlton Athletic manager Lee Bowyer reckons Eberechi Eze has what it takes to be a Premier League success story – and they could face him in tomorrow’s friendly at Crystal Palace.
The Eagles announced a £16million deal for the QPR attacker, 22, earlier today.
The former Millwall youngster has signed a five-year deal with Palace and the fee could eventually hit around £20m.
Bowyer takes his Addicks side to SE25 tomorrow for a pre-season friendly.
Eze played in both fixtures against Charlton in the 2019-20 campaign.
“He’s a very good player,” said Bowyer. “Sometimes you need to take a step back [after being let go by the Lions] to go forward.
“I see a player that can create and can score. He’s very good in possession – he’s got a good eye for a pass around the final third and he just goes past people.
“I think he’ll be alright in the Premier League, I hope so for the lad anyway.
“When we played them [at The Valley] I said to him after the game: ‘Just keep working hard’, because something happened for him to drop back. But hopefully now the penny has dropped with him.
“He’s got ability and I hope he goes on now and does well. He’s got all the tools to become a very good player.”
Eze struggled to make an impact in Rangers’ 1-0 loss at Charlton in late June.
Asked if you make special preparations for a flair player like that, Bowyer said: “In our division, yeah.
“Because when they are a player like that who can hurt you, you have got to isolate them. Then there isn’t so much of a threat. If you get keep him where you want him then it stops a big chunk of where their goals came from.”
Bowyer reckons that Eze is a long-term successor to Wilfried Zaha.
“I see that Eze as his replacement in the future,” said the Charlton boss. “He’ll play a big part with Eze and his development. Eze will go in there and look up to Zaha.
“On his day Zaha is unplayable. I played against him years ago when he was just coming through. I was at Ipswich, in my last year. He was unpredictable and unplayable. He’s a great player to have in the dressing room because he can just make something out of nothing.
“It is a bit like [Jonathan] Leko for us last season. You never knew what he was going to do in the final third but he’d try to make something happen. Zaha does that a lot.
“He’s definitely a player they’ll want to hold onto. It will be a good test for our full-backs.”
Bowyer is expected a stiff test. The Charlton manager’s rebuilding plans since relegation have been stifled by a transfer embargo.
“Palace are a good, solid side,” he said. “I watched a little bit of them earlier in the week and they are very difficult to break down. They get in a good shape and work hard. And Roy [Hodgson] – we all know he’s a top manager. He has managed his country.
“It will be a good test for us, especially with the numbers we’ve got.
“It’s fitness – that’s the most important thing. We should get a bit of fitness, like when we played Arsenal [last summer]. The players play against players who are better than them. It’s good for them to see that benchmark – the levels you need to reach.”
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