Will Cole Palmer Follow In The Footsteps Of Phil Foden At Man City?

He's scored twice in the first three matches
13:00, 17 Aug 2023

Cole Palmer has certainly made a name for himself at the start of this season. Manchester City may only be three matches into their new campaign but the 21-year-old has already scored twice. Once in the Community Shield and once in the UEFA Super Cup as City secured another European prize.

Palmer’s arrival into the first team has been slightly surprising from an outsider's point of view. But those within the club are well aware of the ability that has seen him feature in every match so far. He’s also benefited from Riyad Mahrez’s exit this summer after the Algerian departed for Saudi Arabia. With Kevin De Bruyne now out injured, more gaps are opening up in City’s attacking line-up and the possibility for Palmer to get more game time is growing.

However, Pep Guardiola is clearly keen to keep his feet on the ground. 


“I don't think a loan is going to happen. He's going to stay or going to [be sold], but I think a loan is not going to happen. I understand he wants to be more active than the previous season.

“But Riyad has gone so we have one more place there. I cannot say anything because, of course, all the decisions need to be made by the club. The club has to decide what the best is. All together, we will do it.”

It seems unfeasible that City would let Palmer go this summer, but what that comment will do is keep the youngster grounded. He may be a few years older than Phil Foden was when he broke into the team as a 17-year-old, but there are similarities between the two. Both academy stars had to wait for opportunities. Remember the desperation for Foden to be shipped out on loan to get game time as a teenager? His talent was clear and obvious, but Guardiola took his time. Training with elite-level players was far better for his development than being loaned out, and City are reaping the rewards for their patience. 


He was slowly introduced to the first team and his appearances and contributions increased year on year. By the age of 20 he made 50 appearances across all competitions, and last season he got 48 run-outs as part of City’s treble-winning side. He might not have nailed down a starting spot in Guardiola’s XI, but he made 22 league starts last term.

That might seem like a relatively low number, but in this City squad, unless your name is Erling Haaland or Rodri, it’s about normal. Foden got the same number of Premier League starts as Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Mahrez and John Stones, while Jack Grealish only made one more league start over the course of the season. 

For Palmer, his aim has to be joining that group of players at some point. That may take two or three seasons as it did for Foden, but if you promised Palmer that he could play that much for a successful Man City team in three seasons' time, he would likely snap your hand off. 

It’s also important that City retain that local edge. Despite their spending in recent times, Foden has given them that connection to the community and if they can continue to promote academy players then that kinship with the fans will continue. When the likes of Chelsea are spending hundreds of millions in the transfer window, it feels refreshing that City are not doing the same, and instead giving Palmer a chance to step up. 

He isn’t as talented as Foden on the face of it, but the England man has proved that the pathway to first-team football is possible. That alone may stop Palmer from moving away from the Etihad. Given a loan has been taken off the table by Guardiola, the best thing he can do is stay put. Chasing short-term game time won’t be as good for his development as working under one of the greatest managers on the planet. 

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