By no means I am telling you that Cole Palmer is similar in his style of play or position to Phil Foden. Only an Absolute idiot would think like that. The comparisons I am making is in the way Pep is slowly transitioning Palmer into the first team. It is very similar to the way in which Foden was integrated into our playing eleven. The euphoric thing about the entire process is that we seem to have developed a repeatable template to integrate our academy players into the first team.
Lack of pathway criticism
City’s academy has come under huge criticism since the departure of Jadon Sancho. Many people have even gone on to point out that academy players at City are best served by looking for opportunities elsewhere. But, i would hands down disagree with all of the criticism of our academy. The pathway was always there, but it required certain special qualities.
Phil Foden is the greatest epitome of the personality needed to make it through to the first team. I repeat again that it’s the personality that overweighs skills in an academy player’s journey into the first team. Patience and perseverance are the qualities that separated Foden from Sancho. The mindset to learn even more rather than start playing regularly for the first team has been the difference in the levels that Sancho and Foden are at right now.
It is clearly showing with the way Sancho is struggling under Ten Haag and how Foden is going from strength to strength and establishing himself as one of the world’s best. The one thing that City’s players in the academy have learnt from the Sancho saga is that Developing yourself is more important than starting regularly, particularly at a young age.
The path of Cole Palmer
The interesting thing here is that we still do not know the best position for Cole Palmer. You could argue that the right wing is his natural abode. But, Pep sees things in a different way. Foden grew up in the academy playing attacking midfield all his life. Now, he is one of the most lethal left sided players in the world. Even Foden would have never dreamt growing up that his preferred position would be on the left flank.
Pep has played Palmer in 2 positions predominantly this season. He has started on the right wing and also the attacking midfield role. Sources close to City have been stating that Pep sees Palmer as a potential replacement of KDB in the future. He is impressed by Palmer’s special quality in the box, which KDB also possesses.
But, on the flip side of this, Palmer also has exceptional dribbling ability. His decision making when dribbling stands out for me. It is exceptionally good for a player of his age. He knows exactly when to dribble and when to recycle possession. But, when he decides to dribble, then he very rarely loses the ball. For me, he is a perfect replacement to Mahrez.
That curling shot against Swindon town
I still remember the match against Swindon town in the FA cup. The way Palmer cut inside from the right and curled the shot into the far corner was just out iof this world. At that moment the camera slowly moved towards Mahrez and you could see a smile of satisfaction on Mahrez’s face. He was so proud of what Palmer did there. I am sure that curling shot would have rolled back the years for Mahrez and taken him back to the land of nostalgia.
Right from that moment against Swindon town, everyone’s opinions about Palmer were re-affirmed. From that day everyone knew that it was just a matter of when for Cole Palmer. Credit to Palmer that he had believed in the process that Pep and City had for him. It is this belief that will ensure that Cole Palmer will be the next big thing to take the baton of the academy from Phil Foden. I wish Cole Palmer all the very best in this journey. I am sure that, just like Phil Foden he will be an inspiration to all the others fostering their dreams of breaking into the first team