At the tail end of the summer transfer window, Chelsea pulled off a, somewhat, low key move. Cole Palmer played an almost non-existent role in Manchester City’s treble victory, but still showed enough flashes to warrant a move away. No one could, or should, have expected the youngster to become the heartbeat of this Chelsea side.
Besides being a young player, nothing about Palmer resembles a Boehly player. He didn’t come to Stamford with an insane mixtape, nor any top level performances.
Palmer came up through Manchester City’s academy that has pushed through some exciting players of late. Last season was clearly his breakout, with Pep giving the player more playing time as the season went on. However, it was clear that Palmer was always going to be a victim of the glutton of talent at the club, so a move away was always the only option.
Even the most optimistic of Chelsea fans couldn’t have imagined just how well Palmer has played. By almost playing him like he’s Dele Alli, Potch unlocked something in Palmer that he never showed at City. It’s not hard to imagine the death spiral Chelsea would be in if it wasn’t for the young Englishman.
Chelsea have been a dumpster fire of disappointment since the Boehly takeover, but this Palmer move should clearly be the way the club needs to operate. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional home run swing, but you still need players who can get on base and provide offense.
Palmer broke the mold set by previous Chelsea transfers. In fact, his move seemed almost in total contradiction to the previous players Chelsea scooped up.
Mudryk came to the Prem with the equivalent of the greatest And1 mixtapes 2003 had ever seen. Enzo Fernández, just played one of the best World Cups for a young midfielder, deserving a chance at the highest level. Even Nicolas Jackson showed flashes of his potential in Spain with most clubs likely to take a flier on the promising striker.
When Chelsea announced the quiet transfer of Palmer, most fans expected him to play a role similar to Conor Gallagher. After all, nothing at any level ever showed fans that Palmer could play a key role at a top club. Furthermore, outside of Jadon Sancho, it’s rare to see ex-Man City academy players break out at the top flight level.
At the surface level, nothing screamed impressive about Palmer. While his transfer fee was reasonable, fans felt that he was no more than a bench player.
Unlike Mudryk, Palmer had experience in the Prem and played under one of the best managers of all time. So, his acclimation to Chelsea took no time,especially in a Potch system. Just having quality experience in the Prem and other high level competitions, put him ahead of the Ukrainian.
Additionally, despite not scoring for City in the Prem, he still got a few games under his belt by the end of last season, assisting in a victory against Chelsea. That, coupled with his quality experience in the UCL, gave him a leg up on all his competitors besides Fernández. This isn’t meant to bash on Mudryk, but to explain why the move has gone over more smoothly for Palmer.
Nothing prepared Chelsea fans for the impact the Englishman would have on this season. Fans expected to have another Gallagher or Mount, but instead found a gem.
Dele Alli exploded under Potch and quickly became one of Europe’s most exciting prospects, in the same way Bellingham did. By playing Palmer like Alli, Potch found the missing piece to this Chelsea side.
In this Chelsea side, Palmer has played just about anywhere, but thrived on the right wing or under the striker. A big part of why this has been so successful is just how comfortable he is with cutting in and creating space for himself and others. Palmer floats across the forward line and provides outlets to his teammates.
It’s interesting to compare him to Kai Havertz because Palmer is the player the team wanted Havertz to be. A fluid creator built in the mold of Özil that can be the heartbeat of a competitive side. Perhaps the reason it’s worked for Palmer is his experience in the Prem and clinical ability.
Chelsea’s season turned, as much as it could, with the emergence of the attacker. Just as Potch used Dele Alli to unlock a version of his Spurs side, he may be doing that with Palmer.
Alli, with Kane, perfected the vision that Potch had for a potent offense. In the space created by the striker, Alli would be free to roam to either create chances or finish them off. Additional space was afforded to him by the midfield playing deeper, which Chelsea has tried.
Even without a truly potent striker, Jackson has the potential to become one with time, Palmer is playing the Alli role well. However, just as with Alli, Palmer needs to become a tertiary piece in a good side. A lethal striker would just open the game evenmore for him and let his role lessen which could only help Chelsea.
In Palmer, Potch found a way to revive this weak Chelsea squad. There is so much to like about Palmer’s game, but he really does fill a hole that the Blues have spent years searching for.
An unremarkable transfer at the time, Palmer has become vital to a Chelsea squad looking for stability. Potch has given the youngster the keys to this offense and Palmer has repaid him. Heroes can often come in the most surprising of ways and Palmer has overshadowed plenty at Chelsea to become one.
Featured image: Getty