How Cole Palmer is going from Man City’s boy to Chelsea’s man: £43m star steps into huddles with his old team-mates, tells his current colleagues to train harder… and his interviews are no-nonsense!
- Cole Palmer has quickly established himself as a key player at Stamford Bridge
- The 21-year-old completed a surprise move from Manchester City last summer
- It’s baffling why Guardiola sold Palmer to a rival club – It’s All Kicking Off
‘City’s boy is Chelsea’s man,’ roared Peter Drury on Sky Sports commentary as Cole Palmer confidently dispatched a last-minute penalty against his former employers to grab a point for the Blues on Sunday evening.
The strike was the 21-year-old’s fourth successful spot-kick in as many attempts since his £42.5million switch to Stamford Bridge last summer and it capped off another starring performance in a darker shade of blue.
But Palmer’s goal contributions are only one example of his startling development in London.
Following a succession of transfer window spending sprees, Chelsea’s Cobham training ground is an unbalanced collection of high-potential youngsters desperate to impress. Final sessions before Mauricio Pochettino announces his matchday squads must resemble a trial in the Hunger Games.
But Palmer, who appears unfazed by any situation, has ascended to the top. No longer ‘one to watch’, he is a player already making meaningful contributions to a top Premier League side.
Chelsea’s newest star Cole Palmer kept his nerve to convert a last-minute penalty against Manchester City, earning his side a point during Sunday’s thrilling 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge
Despite some worries over competition for places at Chelsea, Palmer has quickly become a favourite under manager Mauricio Pochettino thanks to his footballing ability and personality
City manager Pep Guardiola revealed the young winger rejected his offer of more play time
Ahead of Sunday’s thrilling 4-4 draw with Manchester City, the Chelsea boss tried to temper hyperbolic forecasts of the winger’s future, having earlier compared him to former Real Madrid star and World Cup winner Angel Di Maria.
‘He has the capacity to be the playmaker that can link with his team-mates,’ Pochettino told Sky Sports. ‘Very important for us in the way we want to play.
‘Not too much talk as [we] need to give the time to learn and improve and see in a few years if he will be the big player we saw.’
Palmer’s subsequent performance did little to lower lofty expectations. He told reporters after the game that he doesn’t ‘work on penalties’, but simply trusts his ability.
‘It was very strange since it’s the first time I’ve played against Manchester City.’ He said. ‘It was a long wait [to take the penalty] but I felt confident. I’ve had a few now. I kept focused. I won’t say I work on penalties, because I don’t. I just trust my ability.’
The youngster added to the peculiarity of the occasion when he was involved in a playful incident with his former City team-mates. Palmer had to be removed from a huddle by Erling Haaland as he attempted to steal vital plans for their late free-kick.
Sunday’s penalty came a week after another perfect conversion from 12 yards, this time against Guglielmo Vicario, in Chelsea’s crazy 4-1 win over Tottenham.
In a game where the Blues oscillated between maddening and sublime, Palmer’s poise proved key in eventually unlocking the foolhardy nine-man Spurs defence.
He ended the tie with a goal and an assist to his name before accompanying hat-trick hero Nicolas Jackson, who profited from one of his pin-point passes, to a post-match interview that was another demonstration of his unique perspective.
A post shared by Chelsea FC (@chelseafc)
Palmer was cheekily seen trying to listen in on Manchester City’s team talk on Sunday evening
Erling Haaland quickly pushed his former team-mate away from the Manchester City huddle
‘It’s been a difficult start for him, no hiding it, but he was brilliant tonight,’ Palmer said of his team-mate. ‘He just needs to keep his head down and work harder in training and he will get many more hat-tricks.’
The words ripped straight from the Veteran Footballer’s Handbook, not often uttered by a 21-year-old when discussing a colleague one year his senior.
Palmer’s footballing education with Guardiola’s treble winners in Manchester may offer some answers to why he has taken to life in London with such ease. The youngster admitted as much, saying: ‘It’s a lot more difficult at City, so when I went to Chelsea I thought I could break into the team.’
That non-nonsense approach proved key in his decision to leave the Etihad and has served him well at his new club.
‘I’m not surprised he’s done well quickly at Chelsea,’ former City academy director Jason Wilcox, now director of football at Southampton told The Mail on Sunday’s Joe Bernstein. ‘He’s a quiet, languid guy and people can misinterpret that. With a footballing eye, you could always see elite vision, technical ability and winning mentality.
‘He had to overcome challenges at City. There was a point his team-mates were growing quicker than him and he found it difficult physically.
‘We kept him with the Under-18s when his peers went up to the U21s. That wasn’t easy for Cole but he took it in his stride and adapted.
‘On the pitch, he has tremendous courage. He takes the ball and tries things. He responds well to pressure and doesn’t get affected by the crowd.’
Palmer’s calculation has proved correct. Not only has he become a first team regular but he has even wrestled control from senior team-mates. Last month, He went toe-to-toe with Raheem Sterling after Chelsea were awarded a penalty against Arsenal.
The youngster held off his more experienced colleague before keeping his cool to give the Blues a 15th minute lead against Mikel Arteta’s side, in a game they would go on to draw 2-2.
Fans were stunned to hear Palmer say his team-mate Nicolas Jackson needed to work ‘harder’
Palmer and Raheem Sterling argued over who would take Chelsea’s penalty against Arsenal
Palmer has now started the last six Chelsea matches and his inclusion in the side has coincided with the Blues’ improved form. The record from those games reads; three wins, two draws – against Arsenal and City – and one defeat.
The performances were noted by England manager Gareth Southgate when announcing his squad on Thursday but Monday brought news of his first senior call-up following a reshuffle due to injuries.
The England boss could a lot worse than incorporate an in-form player with experience of lifting a European Championship for England, even if it came at the junior level.
After all, the Wythenshawe-native was a crucial part of Lee Carsley’s side that claimed a historic victory in the final against Spain. And it was his strike – which cannoned off Curtis Jones’s back – that separated the two sides in July.
Cole Palmer’s free-kick deflected off Curtis Jones and wrong-footed the Spain goalkeeper in England’s 1-0 win in the U21 European Championship final
Gareth Southgate has handed the 21-year-old his first call-up to the senior England squad
Many thought the tournament would be an ideal platform for him to finally get regular minutes at the Etihad, especially after the departure of Riyad Mahrez and his goals in the Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup.
But Palmer wanted more. According to Guardiola, the youngster – unconvinced by the manager’s gametime assurances – informed him that he would like to leave his hometown club.
City’s loss is well and truly Chelsea’s gain. Pochettino has the youngest average squad in the division, stripped of legends and cult heroes of the club’s former glories. But in Palmer they have a player who is making a case to be one of its leaders.
Not solely on account of his quality, but due to his ability to take every hurdle in stride.
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