Three [3] key reasons Palmer is the Premier League signing of the season

Three reasons key reasons Palmer is the Premier League signing of the season

In a scarcely believable end to a scarcely believable match at Stamford Bridge on Thursday night, Cole Palmer produced his latest awe-inspiring display to take his debut season at Chelsea to even giddier heights.

In a season that has seen Mauricio Pochettino’s side blighted by injuries and inconsistencies, the 21-year-old has been perhaps the only consistent bright spark since his summer move from Manchester City.

And as Chelsea drifted to an all-to-familiar defeat against Manchester United, it was Palmer again who stole the limelight, cooly dispatching his second penalty of the night in the tenth minute of added time before finding a winner just a minute later to complete a dramatic turnaround against the club he grew up supporting.

The fans inside Stamford Bridge have grown increasingly accustomed to such displays from the youngster who has propelled himself to the brink of England’s Euro 2024 squad and a shoo-in for the end-of-season Young Player of the Year award.

Despite that, Palmer’s spectacular first season at Chelsea was far from expected. A £42.5million deadline-day fee raised eyebrows for a midfielder who started just two Premier games for City last season but the Englishman has shrugged off the weight of expectation that has burdened countless big-money signings made by Toddy Boehly.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Palmer’s performances this season have seen countless records tumble.

His hat-trick on Thursday brings his league tally to 16 goals – just two behind Erling Haaland and five more than fellow summer recruits Christopher Nkunku and Nicolas Jackson combined. In all competitions, the Englishman has notched up a mammoth 33 goal contributions in 39 games.

Against Burnley last weekend, he became only the fifth player to reach 20 goal involvements in their debut campaign with Chelsea and is the youngest to do so aged 21.

And in the league altogether, Palmer has 24 goals and assists, more than prolific duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa managed in their maiden campaigns. Only Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (32) stands ahead of the attacking midfielder for a debut-season tally.

While Palmer has been a mainstay in Chelsea’s lineup since his arrival in September, Pochettino has failed to find the same consistency in the attackers surrounding him.

The aforementioned Jackson and Nkunku have struggled with form and injury respectively, while out wide, Raheem Sterling, Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke have all blown hot and cloud at various points throughout the campaign.

Palmer, meanwhile, has remained consistent in his output. Since his maiden league goal against Burnley in October, the youngster has only once gone consecutive games without providing a goal or assist for his team in the league.

While the other forwards have been chopped and changed around him, Palmer has made the central attacking position his own, finding a reliability seldom shown by Pochettino’s other attackers and establishing himself as one of the first names on the team sheet.

While it may seem a distant memory, Palmer’s first goal of the season, in fact, came in the sky-blue home shirt of Manchester City. Picked to start in the UEFA Super Cup final, Palmer headed home a crucial equaliser against Seville as Pep Guardiola’s came from behind to secure a penalty-shootout victory.

Guardiola has since suggested that the 21-year-old had made clear his desire to play more regularly this season – a desire City couldn’t fulfil. A move for regular football may have seemed an obvious choice but it came with its risks.

Fellow academy graduate Phil Foden, now enjoying his best season at the club, was nurtured in the first team for several years before regularly starting and Palmer could easily have trodden a similar path.

The youngster, though, took a different route, taking a gamble in moving away from family and the luxuries of City’s winning machine to kickstart his senior career but reaping the rewards tremendously.

Jeremy Doku, signed by City just a week before Palmer departed, has dealt with rotation and injury this season but has notched up just two league goals, a far cry from Palmer’s exploits.

City have often had to be ruthless with their squad in their pursuit of league dominance but Palmer’s departure will be one the club must be rueing by with each passing day.

 

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