When Mail Sport’s Martin Keown visited Crystal Palace’s training ground in February for an interview with then manager Patrick Vieira, we bumped into Eberechi Eze.
Everyone else had left, training having finished more than an hour ago. Yet Eze was still present, along with Michael Olise, playing a game of chess and then table tennis in the players’ canteen.
Eze asked Keown: ‘What do you need to be successful?’ To which our three-time Premier League winner with Arsenal replied: ‘You need to make your mark. There is no time to lose.’
Watching Eze provide the electricity at the Brentford Community Stadium — as well as the lightning bolts zigzagging overhead — you got the sense this eye-catching 25-year-old from Greenwich is ready to shoulder the responsibility of life after Wilfried Zaha.
It is little wonder Manchester City are considering making a move for him, as Mail Sport revealed , although word is it would take north of £70million to prise him from Palace.
Eberechi Eze starred as Crystal Palace and Brentford entertained a 1-1 draw on Saturday
Eze (left) has emerged as the bright spark in a young and hungry Palace team
Olise signed a four-year deal this summer amid interest in him from Chelsea. You would not be surprised if Eze is likewise tied down with his current contract running until 2025 and insiders say that is now being worked on.
He was certainly a level above the rest on Saturday and manager Roy Hodgson said: ‘That’s what Eze is. I never get tired of saying how good Eze is. We expect more and more from him and when his good pal Olise comes back, they will cause teams even more problems.’
Kevin Schade gave Brentford a deserved lead with a well-taken goal — his first for the club — after cutting inside from the left wing and tormenting his marker Joel Ward.
From then on, it felt as if the visitors were waiting for Eze to inspire them to an equaliser.
After Saturday’s games, the statistics said nobody in the Premier League had unleashed more shots than Palace’s No 10, while he also ranks highly for chances created.
Eze was involved in the equaliser which saw Joachim Andersen, on his 100th appearance in the Premier League, produce one of the more unlikely finishes you will see this season.
Brentford (4-3-3): Flekken 5.5; Hickey 6, Collins 6, Pinnock 6, Henry 6.5; Jensen 6.5 (Onyeka 72min, 6), Norgaard 7, Janelt 6; Mbuemo 6, Wissa 6, Schade 7.5 (Lewis-Potter 80).
Scorer: Schade 18.
Manager: Thomas Frank 6.5.
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Johnstone 6; Ward 4.5, Andersen 7, Guehi 6, Mitchell 6; Lerma 6.5, Doucoure 6; Ayew 6, Eze 7, Schlupp 6 (Ahamada 71, 6); Edouard 6 (Mateta 71, 6).
Scorer: Andersen 76.
Manager: Roy Hodgson 6.
Referee: Peter Bankes 6.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola (left) could plot a late transfer window move for Eze (right)
Central defenders are known for their sliding tackles and Andersen trusted that trademark move to score as the ball squirmed under the body of goalkeeper Mark Flekken.
Neither club could find a winner, though perhaps we should not be surprised. Every Premier League encounter between these two teams has ended in a draw, this being the fifth.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank joked afterwards that we should all lump on the reverse fixture finishing 1-1 at Selhurst Park. We will see what the electric Eze has to say about that.
Palace will stand every chance of scoring and winning that match with Eze at the heart of their team. As long as City do not snap him up before the transfer deadline on Friday, that is.