Chelsea find £42.5m transfer success with own Di Maria and plan to create Erling Haaland repeat


Few players settle as quickly as Cole Palmer has at Chelsea. The 21-year-old arrived from Manchester City on the transfer deadline and after two months in west London has established himself as an undroppable star who has already taken on penalty-taking responsibility.

In many respects, he has become Chelsea's chief creative outlet and has added three goals and four assists in 11 appearances for the Blues. The forward has played across the forward line since arriving at Stamford Bridge in a £40million deal that could eventually reach £42.5million.

Should he continue on the same trajectory it would not be unthinkable to deem the move the biggest immediate success since Chelsea's new owners arrived and their biggest win. The likes of Raheem Sterling and Marc Cucurella took time to find their way in the team, the fees paid for Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo perhaps made their former clubs appear to be winners, while a whole host of young players will see their success assessed in the future. Palmer, thus far, looks a very good piece of business.

It was a deal that was questioned from some corners. It was a significant fee for a player that had only made three Premier League starts for Pep Guardiola. It has not taken long for the questions to turn around to wonder whether Man City have made a mistake.

Mauricio Pochettino struggled to think of a direct comparison for his young star but when pushed landed on Angel Di Maria, 'You know, the body and the way he moves'. Given the calibre, was the 51-year-old head coach surprised to land the City academy product?

He said: "Too many players for different reasons like here at Chelsea, split or take different decisions but I think it is not fair to say no it surprises me because now he is performing and he didn’t play too much at City. We are two different clubs with different visions, with different objectives and maybe he fits really well [at] Chelsea. For Cole maybe it happened with different players. Kovacic, I don’t know what happened here, he is not here, he moved from Chelsea to City, that is always difficult to judge this type of decision."

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With so much turnover throughout the summer and in the last 12 months or so, Chelsea have seen players, staff and even Pochettino himself have to settle into a new environment. Palmer has made it look easier than most.

"Yes, but he is from Manchester. It is not easy for a Manchester boy to come here," said Pochettino. "It is different. No, no, it is a joke.

"Of course, it is easier for him to adapt to the Premier League. When someone comes to England from the outside, you don't know if they can understand the language, weather, culture and food."

On Sunday, Chelsea face Palmer's former club, a team that has seen players bed in with ease in recent seasons. A number of those will make the Blues' job plenty difficult at Stamford Bridge.

Erling Haaland netted 52 goals in his first season with the Premier League champions, while Josko Gvardiol has enjoyed a similarly promising start at the opposite end of the pitch since arriving. It's clear Chelsea will hope to provide an environment that can facilitate the opportunity to flourish.

This season has seen the bulk of the squad adjusting with young players needing to deliver immediately, whilst a difficult run of results has ensured that the pressure is on from the off. It is part of the gap Chelsea must bridge.

Pochettino said: “When you arrive at a club that is very consistent and solid in the way they operate it is always easier than if you arrive at a club that is in the process of building something. They are ahead.

“And when the player arrives at a very consistent organisation it is only about him to perform. The possibility of one player to perform to higher if they sign at City is higher than if we sign a player here - at the moment.

“We are trying to find the best organisation, the best way to play, to know each other. At City you find, Pep or Txiki or Ferran they don’t need to talk to much. They arrive at the organisation and the player know everything that they need to do, how they need to behave because the kit man, the communication, they know how it works. Here we are all new and too many players at this organisation are evolving and we are trying to find the best way to work.”

Chelsea must continue to grow, and players most take to their roles much like Palmer has done. Stability must be earned, and then hopefully more successes, like Palmer, become easier to see.

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