Cold Palmer: The Coolest Player in the World

Cole Palmer’s recent success at Chelsea has been turning heads in the world of soccer.

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On October 16, 2021, forward Cole Palmer came on as a substitute in a Premier League match against Burnley in stoppage time. At just 19 years old, Palmer saw out the last few minutes of the game, securing a 2-0 victory for Manchester City. Although he only had a minor impact in the match, it was no small feat for the teenager to be playing in the Premier League. Even more impressively, on that very night, Cole Palmer went on to play in an Under-23s match and scored a hat-trick.

While there was never any doubt that Palmer is a special player, showing dominance in youth-level games and occasionally appearing for Man City’s first team, he clearly did not fit into Pep Guardiola’s system. Guardiola’s side has indisputably been the most dominant in world football over the past decade, and his squad boasts some of the most talented players in the world. 

Therefore, it made sense when City sold Palmer for £40 million to make a large profit off an academy player. The fee that Chelsea paid was more valuable to City at the time and would also offset financial fair play rules, which encourage the selling of homegrown talents. This move would also prove to be beneficial for Palmer himself, as he would be more likely to get playing time in the struggling, rebuilding, and inexperienced Chelsea side. While Man City’s squad has an average age of 26.3 years old, Chelsea’s average is just 23.7 years old, making them the youngest squad in the Premier League and still desperately in need of a leader on the pitch. 

Chelsea’s lack of experience has been very apparent throughout their season. Their manager, Mauricio Pochettino, leads them in a 4-3-3 starting formation, which shifts into a 3-4-2-1, meaning one fullback slides into the midfield and the two wide attackers slide in behind striker Nicolas Jackson. Chelsea attempts to dominate the game through possession, and often do so with an average of 59 percent possession per game. 

However, where they differ from his former club is their lack of efficiency in the attack. Manchester City also dominate the game through possession, but have been significantly more successful than Chelsea in doing so. Their ability to exploit spaces on the far side is impeccable, leading to crossing opportunities for their lethal attacking players. So far in the league, City have had 676 crosses as opposed to Chelsea’s 529, the second-lowest tally in the league. 

All tactics aside, Chelsea are still in their first few years with new owner Todd Boehly, meaning they are still a work in progress. They have been in historically bad form, finding themselves as low as 12th place on the table, but that has recently changed thanks to Palmer, the City reject.

Palmer has been the spotlight of the Chelsea squad, displaying immense talent on the pitch. In Chelsea’s matchup against his former club, who are currently one away from winning the league, Palmer demonstrated his unwavering confidence for the first time. The game had been going back and forth, and in stoppage time, it seemed that City would pull through, leading 4-3. However, in the 93rd minute, Chelsea’s Armando Broja was tripped in the penalty area by Rúben Dias, resulting in a penalty for Chelsea. This would be their last chance to tie the game, earning them a much-needed point due to their poor form. 

At this point, the 21-year-old Palmer stepped up to place the ball on the spot. He waited patiently through arguments with the referee and VAR checks until it was confirmed that this would indeed be a penalty. Behind the goal were thousands of Chelsea fans, whose hopes of drawing this game rode on this one kick, not to mention the additional pressure of taking this kick against one’s boyhood club. However, the Mancunian native coolly struck the ball into the upper left corner, shrugging to the crowd as if nothing had even happened. At this, Peter Drury, often regarded as the best English commentator in the sport, exclaimed, “City’s boy is Chelsea’s man!” This could not illustrate his career more accurately.

This was just one example of Palmer’s significant contributions to Chelsea. He demonstrated an ability to stay calm under pressure throughout the season, converting all nine of the penalties he has stepped up to take. In addition to being clutch, he has demonstrated the ability to dominate a game as well. 

Against rivals Manchester United, Palmer scored a penalty in the 19th minute to double Chelsea’s lead to 2-0. But a brace by winger Alejandro Garnacho and a header goal by midfielder Bruno Fernandes left Chelsea down 3-2 in stoppage time, which was meant to last eight minutes. However, in the 99th minute, Chelsea were awarded another late penalty after Madueke was tripped up by Diogo Dalot, where Palmer stepped up once again. He placed it in the bottom right corner before doing his trademark shiver celebration, matching with his nickname, “Cold” Palmer. After this, against all odds, Chelsea quickly won the ball back and earned a corner kick. The ball was rolled out to the top of the box to Palmer, who rifled a shot past United’s entire defense. Within two minutes, Palmer managed to turn this match on its head.

Despite allegations that he is a “pen merchant,” a term used to describe players whose only talent is scoring penalties, Palmer has proved that he is just more. His elegance in open play is perhaps best embodied through his four goals against Everton in a 6-0 victory. Palmer opened up the scoring in the 13th minute, nutmegging an opponent, flicking a pass behind his leg, and then scoring with one touch from outside the goal area off of the combination. Just five minutes later, he found himself in front of goal with a rebound coming back to him, which he calmly headed in. Then, in the 29th minute, Palmer was nearly 50 yards from the goal, having received a mistake of a pass from the keeper, which he extraordinarily scored with his weak foot. As a result of this, Palmer had completed a perfect hat trick within 30 minutes of play. He then put a bow on his scoring tally with a penalty in the second half.

His great talent has also been reflected in his statistics. Ranking second in the league in both goals and assists, he has surpassed numerous benchmarks of former Chelsea legends, such as Eden Hazard’s maximum goal tally of sixteen. His output has been the most consistent for Chelsea by a significant margin, and he has established himself as the main man on the improving side.

In Chelsea’s recent outing against Nottingham Forest, Palmer played a beautiful through ball to assist winger Mykhailo Mudryk, reinforcing his playmaking abilities as on par with his goalscoring. This would end up being crucial in their 3-2 victory. Having spent most of the season in eleventh place, Chelsea suddenly seemed to find form as Palmer did. They now find themselves in sixth, with a possibility of finishing in fifth, which would guarantee them the opportunity to compete in international European competitions. Palmer has been the largest contributor to this out of anyone.

His impact will only increase with a squad full of Chelsea’s healthy stars, many of whom are only now returning from long injuries. For example, Reece James and Christopher Nkunku have both had goal contributions since returning two matches ago. Palmer’s great skill, alongside the returning strength of the rest of the squad, has left fans optimistic for both Palmer’s future and the future of their club, which are starting to look very bright.