Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher disagree on Cole Palmer’s Chelsea verdict amid a major Man City claim
Jamie Carragher has joined the swathes of people praising Cole Palmer after Chelsea’s summer signing scored his eighth goal of the season against Luton on Saturday. His strike was the first of three for the Blues at Kenilworth Road and was possibly his best yet.
Picking up a loose pass on the edge of the Hatters’ area he took one touch before lacing a left-footed strike into the bottom corner. Less than an hour later he showed another part to his game as he deftly rounded goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski, keeping control of the ball in a crowded penalty area before sending two players the wrong way and tapping into an empty net.
It was a goal built on the sort of composure and quality that Chelsea have been missing for far too long and continues what has been a sensational first five months at Stamford Bridge for Palmer. Having previously been described within the ‘mad’ environment at Chelsea by Gary Neville, the 21-year-old has proved doubters very wrong and done it extremely quickly.
Speaking on his Sky Sports podcast in September, Neville was asked about the £42million price tag and the optics of the signing with the context of Chelsea’s last 18 months. “It’s just a little bit mad, isn’t it? It’s chaotic,” he said. “We’ve said it for 15 months with the amount of players they have signed.
“I saw Palmer come on today who they bought for £40million from City and you think, ‘there’s another one’. There’s no doubt that with [Roman] Abramovich leaving, and this new [Todd] Boehly project coming in, there’s no danger in their attack, it’s been everything but stability. In fact, it’s been absolute madness in terms of every department in the club changing!
“They need to stop, just stop. Let things slow down, because when you have that type of project and it all gets disorganised and you don’t know who is going to play week-in, week-out, it seems like something I’m not sure about.”
Mauricio Pochettino himself has been surprised by just how much of an impact Palmer has made though so it’s no shock that others are equally as staggered. “I think [Cole] Palmer has been one of the players of the season,” Carragher said on Monday Night Football after Liverpool’s 4-2 win over Newcastle.
When asked to name their team of the season so far it was Palmer that caused one of the biggest debates between Neville and Carragher. “You’re saying you can’t pick a certain player because his team haven’t done well, that for me almost elevates Cole Palmer,” the former Liverpool man said.
“His performances this season, he’s been Chelsea’s best player by a mile. It looks like, I wouldn’t say a mistake from Man City, but he’s been one of the best players in the league this season.” Unsurprisingly Palmer made Carragher’s team but it was the addition of Erling Haaland and Rodri that saw him miss out in Neville’s.
After 20 games Palmer has the third highest goal contributions per 90 minutes in the league behind only Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah for players with over 1,000 minutes played. His eight goals is more than Bukayo Saka, Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden, while he has also chipped in with four assists too.
Given that Palmer had played less than 500 league minutes before his move to SW6 over the summer it is even more remarkable just how seamlessly he has taken to life at a new club. It has left him with no shortage of admirers from across the country now and he is even being touted as a possible outsider for the England Euro 2024 squad.
Not even Neville could be left questioning the deal for too long and he was waxing lyrical over Palmer within two months of his arrival. “I have to say, Palmer has been wonderful,” he said on commentary during Chelsea’s 4-4 draw against Manchester City earlier this year. “He’s dropping deeper now and dictating the game.
“In moments like these, at Chelsea you want composure and Cole Palmer’s upbringing at City will give him that – he just looks so graceful out there on the ball.” Meanwhile Carragher was sharp to describe him as having ‘footballing arrogance.’ In his current form there’s certainly much more to come from Palmer and for Chelsea that can only be a good thing.