17-year-old Jon Williams’ summer holiday hasn’t been your average one. Whilst people of a similar age were most probably partying, lazing around and taking it easy, Williams aided Crystal Palace in a thrilling comeback against Coventry and received a first full start under Dougie Freedman a week later in the Carling Cup.
His talent is undoubted; despite only 2 matches under his belt Williams has already attracted the attentions of Liverpool and Arsenal alongside recognition internationally with the Welsh Under 21s.
Bags of pace and a canny eye for a pass, Williams has all the makings of a top drawer player in the coming years. But its his dribbling that leaves both sets of fans in awe as, effortlessly, he glides around evading challenges and creating goalscoring opportunities. It’s easy to understand why Arsenal are after him when he taught them a lesson in Palace’s 4-1 demolition last year.
That same technique was obvious to see once he was introduced against Coventry. His willingness to get forwards and attack defenders led to the first goal following Wilfried Zaha’s saved shot as the home team rallied and won the game in the dying seconds. A week later against Crawley he set up Zaha for one of his goals in the 2-0 victory to prove he is already influencing matches for Palace.
Far from just classy on the ball, the youngster is fierce in the tackle too. At 5’5 he might not be the strongest of players but his tenacity and hunger to regain possession will surprise a few unsuspecting players who dwell on the ball lazily.
Capable on the wing or in the middle, the lad owns a great pair of feet and will surely improve as his game time increases. In the meantime, you can find him dazzling in the reserves or playing for Wales youth teams as the Football League have foolishly returned to having 5 substitutes, limiting the chances for players like Williams. Though with nearly 20 caps at youth level, at only 16 he made his debut for the Under 21s and has since gone onto play 5 times for them.
Comparisons to Iniesta have been heard around online message boards as well as to Jack Wilshere as they share a similar figure and tenacity. However I would lessen the expectation levels and liken him to Jonny Howson of Leeds or a future Jordan Henderson with quicker feet.
The future is definitely bright for Williams should he stay with Palace; Nathaniel Clyne has shrugged away transfer rumours and proven himself to be one of the best right-backs in the Championship as opposed to previous wonder kid John Bostock who has since failed to live up to the hype after moving for almost nothing to Tottenham. Just proves the grass isn’t always greener…
Williams has plenty of time to grow into a stylish, confident player similar to the likes of Wilshere and Josh McEachran of Chelsea. But for the time being he has to break into the Palace first team though after Mile Jedinak’s awry performance against Blackpool, it can’t be too long before that happens.