Cole Palmer was supposedly the next big thing to come out of Manchester City’s academy after Phil Foden. He was to follow his fellow Englishman into City’s first team and become a key player in the years to come. Or that was the thinking among the majority of the club's faithful.
In an unexpected twist at the end of the summer transfer window, the City Academy graduate was the subject of a mouth-watering bid from Chelsea. As it turned out City could not say no to it. Not just because of the amount involved but because the player had also indicated his desire to play regular football.
Apparently, Pep Guardiola was not ready to give him that - yet. With the array of stars in the City lineup, it will have been very difficult for the youngster to force his way into the starting XI. He was still one for the future as far as the manager was concerned.
The player’s camp did not see things the same way and so a combination of economics and the reality on ground led to his abrupt departure for London. He has gone from being a secret weapon for City, scoring in the the Community Shield and the Super Cup, to now wearing a different Blue and helping a rival become more formidable in just a couple of months.
In fairness to Chelsea, it does seem they knew what they wanted as Mauricio Pochettino has made the player a regular in his lineup. The forward has not disappointed when called upon. Proving to also be a big-game player he was on target as Chelsea held Arsenal to a 2-2 draw at Stamford bridge on Saturday.
That brings his tally to four goals in 10 matches making him one of the better performers at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are so far getting value for their money even though a £40 million outlay was thought to be excessive for the 21-year-old.
Of course he’s hugely talented and big things were expected of him for the future. But lacking first-team experience, spending such an amount on him raised eyebrows here and there. It remains to be seen if in future City will regret their decision to let him go, especially to a major rival. But for now the player has justified his decision to leave the Etihad Stadium in search of regular top level football.
It’s unthinkable to see Phil Foden wearing a Chelsea or Manchester United jersey playing against Man City at his prime. But that could be the case with Cole Palmer if he fulfills his potential at Stamford bridge.
That may take years to materialize but at the moment the player is proving Man City’s view regarding his readiness for first team football wrong, with every good performance and goal scored for Chelsea.