How Chelsea could line up with Cole Palmer

Just in case you missed it in the chaos, commotion and general ridiculousness of transfer deadline day, Cole Palmer has joined Chelsea from Manchester City.

Chelsea’s umpteenth signing of the summer, Palmer arrives at Stamford Bridge for approximately £45m, taking the Blues’ spending to over £400m in this window alone. That outlay surpasses £1bn since Todd Boehly became club chairman around 15 months ago.

Mauricio Pochettino was perhaps too honest in admitting that it was the club’s hierarchy who wanted to sign Palmer rather than the Chelsea boss himself, with the Argentine now having to find a way to shoehorn another talented youngster into his starting lineup.

First world problems admittedly, but it does pose a serious dilemma for Pochettino. Chelsea had worked so hard to trim their bloated squad, but now it’s overflowing once more.

So, how does Pochettino fit Palmer into this Chelsea team?

Cole PalmerCole Palmer

Palmer impressed at the U21 European Championship / MB Media/GettyImages

If Pochettino uses his favoured 4-2-3-1, there is a natural space for Palmer as a right-winger or right-sided midfielder. We have already seen the 21-year-old operate in such spaces for Man City, cutting in on his preferred left foot and peppering the opposition goal.

Chelsea’s man of the moment Raheem Sterling has featured on that flank so far this season, impressing in performances against Luton Town and West Ham United, but is also comfortable shifting over to the left-hand side.

Noni Madueke, who was fantastic against AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup second round, also operates from the right-hand side, meaning Palmer has plenty of competition for a starting berth.

Palmer, who scored goals in the Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup this season for Man City, will have to impress from the off to secure a place in Pochettino’s starting lineup, something which could be more difficult given that Palmer was not a signing driven by the Argentinian coach.

Potential lineups (when all players are fit):

Palmer (RM) – Gallagher (AM) – Sterling (LM) – Jackson (ST)

Palmer (RM) – Chukwuemeka (AM) – Sterling (LM) – Jackson (ST)

Palmer (RM) – Nkunku (AM) – Sterling (LM) – Jackson (ST)


Palmer could play more centrally under Pochettino / OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

Pochettino has not been averse to mixing things up tactically during his short reign at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea have utilised a 3-4-2-1 in several games this season.

On the opening day of the Premier League against Liverpool, it was Sterling and Carney Chukwuemeka who featured as attacking midfielders behind Nicolas Jackson, with Ben Chilwell and Reece James as wing-backs.

Palmer could feasibly feature as an attacking midfielder capable of drifting into wide spaces on the right-hand side and supporting Malo Gusto (or James when he returns from injury) at right-wing-back.

The 21-year-old has readily featured in more central areas at youth and senior level, with his eye for goal, excellent technical quality and ball retention skills making him primed to succeed in such a role.

However, he again faces stiff opposition in that position. Christopher Nkunku, Chukwuemeka, Conor Gallagher, Sterling and perhaps even the likes of Mykhailo Mudryk can fill such a role. While some of those names are currently in the treatment room, it will not be an easy spot to nail down.

Potential lineups (when all players are fit):

Palmer (AM) – Jackson (ST) – Sterling (AM)

Palmer (AM) – Jackson (ST) – Nkunku (AM)

Palmer (AM) – Nkunku (ST) – Sterling (AM)


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