In his first interview as a Chelsea player, Cole Palmer explains why close connections with several members of the squad will help him settle, reflects on his journey to this point, and outlines his preferred position in attack…
Cole Palmer has not been at Cobham 30 minutes. A whirlwind day that started in Manchester, and took in a medical in London, is now finishing at our training base in Surrey.
For a young man who has only ever known one club, and one city, it is a big move. So, who better to welcome Palmer to his new surroundings than a friendly face?
Raheem Sterling strides towards him. It is an unexpected meeting. The pair warmly embrace – they have stayed in touch since Sterling moved south last summer. And now, just as when Palmer was bursting onto the scene at Man City as a wide-eyed 18-year old, Sterling can help his protégé adapt, this time to a fresh start at Chelsea. History is repeating itself, and Palmer is delighted.
‘Raz has always looked after me, so I appreciate him,’ our new signing says.
‘He was one when I was coming through at Man City who put his arm around me. That was amazing for me, for someone of his pedigree and international experience to do that.
‘He saw the potential I had. He saw what I was doing in training. We started talking a bit more. I was asking him questions all the time and from there we have always kept in contact.
‘I’ve played with him in games a few times, not loads, and now I’ve developed my game a bit more, hopefully we can do some good stuff together.’
Palmer observed the graft Sterling and his team-mates put in, on and off the pitch, learning all the time. ‘I know I’m young,’ the 21-year-old says, ‘but I’ve been in a winning changing room. I know what it takes.’
It is the success he enjoyed in the north-west that Palmer now wants to replicate at Chelsea. He will do so with other familiar faces, closer in age to him than Sterling but with plenty of shared experiences already behind them.
‘I had an amazing summer winning the Euros with Noni [Madueke] and Levi [Colwill],’ Palmer says of England Under-21s’ recent triumph in Georgia, in which he starred.
‘Four weeks we had away. It was just memories. It was good. We knew how good the team was. We knew we could win it. It was just if we could put it together - and we did!'
‘Noni I’ve known since I was 15,’ he continues. ‘From our first camp together we always got along, and we’ve just carried on getting along from then until now. Levi I’ve known from the national team, I knew him a bit before that and played against him, and we get on great.
‘And don’t forget Romeo!’ Palmer adds of Lavia, another recent acquisition. ‘Romeo is my guy. We had a couple of great years together at City.
‘It’s really nice to be joining a new club knowing I’ve got four really good mates already here, ready to help me settle in and adapt. Knowing them helped me make the decision to come. Hopefully I settle in quickly, and help the team win games and win as many trophies as possible.’
Palmer has also been made to feel welcome by Mauricio Pochettino. He has long admired what the head coach achieved at Southampton and Tottenham, and he is looking forward to working with someone who has such a strong track record of getting the best out of young talent.
Palmer’s talent was evident from a young age. Having grown up sitting pitch-side watching his dad play Sunday League football in Manchester, it wasn’t long before the young Cole had a ball at his feet.
‘In primary school, we used to do a game where me and one friend would play the rest of the class. That’s when I first thought I was alright at football. They did get the ball off me a few times, there were too many of them! It wasn’t long after that I first went to City.’
Palmer was six. And since then, his versatility has helped him become the player he is today: an exciting forward, a constant threat in the final third, and, at just 21, a valuable member of a Treble-winning side.
‘I played left-back when I was Under-10,’ Palmer recalls.
‘Then I played midfield. Then later right wing, left wing, and striker. I made my first start at City as a striker. So I have played all along the frontline, but right wing and no.10 are my best two positions, I would say.
‘I played 10 most of the time in the academy, and in the past three years I’ve mainly played on the right wing. But I’m ready to help the team wherever I’m needed.’
And with so many ready to help him as he takes the next step in his career, a bright blue future awaits Chelsea’s Cole Palmer.