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Who is Adam Wharton? Meet the New Crystal Palace Midfield Sensation: Get to Know His Age, Salary and Playing Style

Who is Adam Wharton? Meet the New Crystal Palace Midfield Sensation: Get to Know His Age, Salary and Playing Style

Crystal Palace have stormed out of the Premier League relegation battle after the inspired appointment of Oliver Glasner. The German manager has led them to win three of their last four games, including a famous victory over Liverpool at Anfield, steering them well clear of the drop zone. But it’s not only Glasner, but the reinvigorated form of some particular players – especially new boy Adam Wharton to have led to this dramatic turnaround.

Wharton was among the Eagles’ few signings made in the January transfer window in a desperate plea to turn their season around. Signed for around £18.5 million from Blackburn Rovers on deadline day, the 6 feet midfielder – who can play anywhere in midfield – earned his ‘promotion’ for impressing in the EFL Championship.

The 20-year-old gladly accepted a rumoured £35,000-a-week (£1.8 million-a-year) salary package on a five-and-a-half year contract (until 2029) and was ready to make this step upwards in his career.

The Blackburn-born midfielder actually started his career with his childhood club Blackburn Rovers at the pre-academy level. His parents encouraged him to take up football at the age of six and was aided by having two older brothers with whom he practised in the backyard and school grounds.

Josh Bowler #11 of Blackpool is tackled by Adam Wharton #36 of Blackburn Rovers

His elder brother Scott, currently a part of Blackburn Rovers, was invited to join the club at the under-12 level and asked if he had any brothers. After that, Adam popped up and started attention sessions with the club on Fridays after school.

Soon after that, Adam started becoming associated with the Rovers and loved every second of it – being a childhood fan. Interestingly, he actually acted as a mascot for Blackburn Rovers in a match against Chelsea in 2008. He also got to learn from Blackburn Rovers star Chris Samba after the Frenchman started working as a coach in their youth academy.

Wharton started to slowly, but surely make waves in the Blackburn Rovers academy and impressed for their youth teams. It was in 2022 as an 18-year-old that he broke through to their senior team, the same year he also made his debut for England’s under-19 team. The Riversiders’ former manager Jon Dahm Tomasson was the one to give him his breakthrough into the starting XI and Adam took it with both hands.

He would go onto make 51 appearances for Blackburn Rovers in just one-and-a-half seasons, scoring four times and producing five assists. Wharton loves doing an athletic backflip celebration for his goals, and Tomasson personally believes that the Englishman can excel in the UEFA Champions League – even though he has some elements to polish about his game.

He told The Athletic after his move to Crystal Palace: “He’s a great player but there’s still a lot to learn off the ball. The important thing with Adam is that he’s willing to learn. He’s a positive boy and he’s already developed a lot and he has the mentality to become better every day. He’s not the finished article yet but, on the ball, he is Champions League level.”

In fact, Wharton had such a promising 2022/23 season with the Riversiders that he stated attracting interest in the 2023 summer transfer window itself. However, his agents – the OmniSports Agency (which also manages players like Chris Smalling and Connor Roberts) shielded him and respected Blackburn’s desire to keep him for at least a while longer.

Blackburn’s Sporting director Gregg Broughton actually praised the agents, remarking: “I have to say, he’s got very strong representation. I have to give a lot of credit to his agent, Adam is with a top agent who understands young players’ development. He understands that when they leave the club they have to continue their momentum and if you go to a Premier League club as a young player as an Under-21 or a squad player, your momentum stops.”

Adam Wharton of Crystal Palace takes a shot on goal during the Premier League match Nottingham Forest vs Crystal Palace at City Ground, Nottingham, United Kingdom, 30th March 2024 (Photo by Gareth Evans/News Images)

The Riversiders ensured that they kept a hold on the 20-year-old midfielder for a bit longer and then sold him for a pretty prominent amount in the winter window. Wharton had some initial troubles adjusting at Palace and struggled in the first few games, especially in the losses to Brighton and Chelsea, but Glasner was able to recognize and tap into his best position.

The 20-year-old has played in a no.8 and defensive midfield role for the Eagles and produced two assists, including one in the 4-2 loss to Manchester City in April. Wharton is actually a very smart midfielder who is aware of his own strengths and weaknesses, as well as possessing a fearlessness in possession and in terms of being immune from high pressing.

In an interview with Scouted last year, Wharton explained his own playing style and what makes him stand out – saying: “Midfield roles can be so different based on what your manager, or your team wants to achieve. I used to play more as a number ten, sitting just off the striker when I was younger and I actually preferred playing there, but you see a lot less of the ball.

“When you do get the ball, you can be more effective and play those killer passes, your contributions are more obvious, so that’s what I enjoyed about that role. When you play deeper – especially with the way teams play nowadays – you are responsible for more during build up which is a different kind of pressure.

“You need to be brave on the ball, you have to demand it from your centre-halves, but that also means you are pressed more intensely with teams wanting higher turnovers. You have to be more progressive in your passing, you can see the pitch from another viewpoint and naturally, that affects the way you play.

“This might sound weird, but I love wrapping passes through to the number ten so they can turn and drive at the defence – maybe more than a goal or an assist. Because I was a number ten myself, I can appreciate how difficult those passes are to make, but also how valuable they can be; especially if you’re being found between the lines.”

Wharton, who used to wear the no.36 and no.23 shirts at Blackburn – has taken the no.20 jersey at Crystal Palace. Interestingly, this was actually won by Dutch midfield maestro Edgar Davids in his solitary season (2010/11) with the Eagles. Wharton seems to have similar traits to Davids in terms of his progressive passing ability, energy levels and confidence. It’s now upon him to hone these skills and tap into his utmost potential to become the next Declan Rice or Jude Bellingham or English football.