If we’re being honest, Chelsea’s recruitment strategy since being bought by Todd Boehly has been erratic at best. They aren’t afraid to splash the cash but there seems to be very little thought going into what is needed. It is why Robert Sanchez is between the sticks for the Blues even though they have spent the best part of £1bn across three transfer windows.
Yet when they made a deadline day move for Cole Palmer, eyebrows were raised. Chelsea had already added Nicolas Jackson and versatile forward Christopher Nkunku to their ranks in the summer. Mauricio Pochettino already had Raheem Sterling, Mykhalio Mudryk and Noni Madueke at his disposal.
Madueke, a 21-year-old left-footed right-winger, had been signed from PSV in January for a reported £30m. He was also given the No.11 jersey in the summer, a decision that seemed to suggest he would be a key player for Pochettino. Adding another 21-year-old left-footed right-winger felt a little excessive.
The Blues also parted with a hefty fee - believed to be in the region of £40m - for a player with just 19 Premier League appearances to his name.
Fast forward a couple of months and Palmer is considered by many to be one of the signings of the summer after a string of impressive showings. Not just for Chelsea but across the Premier League.
The versatile attacker, who has been called up to the England squad by Gareth Southgate, scored a stoppage-time equaliser against Manchester City in a pulsating 4-4 draw. It was his fourth goal of the season and he’s chipped in with a further two assists to take is tally to six goal involvements in just 595 Premier League minutes.
It is an even more impressive return when considering the Manchester City academy graduate had no pre-season with the Blues. He didn’t have a chance to acclimatise to his new surroundings before being thrust into Pochettino’s starting XI. He hasn’t looked out of place. In fact, Jamie Carragher believes Palmer is quickly becoming the main man at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking on Sky Sports following the epic clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday evening, Carragher said: "He's a major part now in this Chelsea team and he almost feels like the main man. He's part of the group of players I feel who are making a late surge for the tournament next summer for England. The way he's playing right now, you feel there's a great chance he could end up in that Euros squad."
🅿️ Cole Palmer has now scored more penalties (4) than any other player in the Premier League this season pic.twitter.com/pwKg5Qz7Ku— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 12, 2023
Granted, all of his goals have come via the penalty spot. But this shouldn’t be taken for granted. Finding reliable players from 12-yards out is harder than most realise. The left-footed attacker mixes it up from the spot, sending two of his four to the right side of the goal and two to the left.
He kept his cool against former teammates at Stamford Bridge in stoppage time to cooly slot past Ederson. There’s a reason people are now calling him Cold Palmer - he’s ice cold in high-pressure situations.
Chelsea have seen a number of high-profile signings struggle recently. Enzo Fernandez is yet to really deliver on his £100m price-tag while Moises Caicedo doesn’t look like the dominant player he was for Brighton just yet. Mudryk hasn’t set the Premier League alight, though some of his cameos have caught the eye. Delivering for a team in transition isn’t easy, yet Palmer is making this his team and is, at times, single-handedly carrying the attack. He’s thriving having been given a key role for the Blues, something that just wasn’t on the cards for him at the Etihad.
City made the right call when cashing in on Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus but the sale of Palmer might be something they regret down the line.