“He’s still learning” – Former Liverpool player manages to criticise Chelsea star despite hattrick

Ian Wright was speaking about Cole Palmer on his podcast today, and he quite neatly summed up the Palmer Paradox that we’ve seen week after week.

The attacking midfielder is producing at a historic rate, and impressing everyone in his first season at Chelsea. Yet even in the games where he ends up having the biggest impact – like the one on Thursday, he’s often totally out of the game for long spells, as Wrighty explained:

“He is the centrepiece. When it went to 3-2, you’re thinking, ‘Where is Cole’? He’s too wide; get involved more. He went to a [No 10]. At that stage of the game, you saw him getting on the ball more,” the former Arsenal man said.

“But things kept happening. He’s trying to pass it through the little gaps. I just love the way he took the game over. He is a match-winner. He’s quality.”

On ESPN, Steve Nicol was even more harsh, and was happy to actively criticise the former Man City player:

“He’s still learning. He scored a hat-trick, but he disappears out of games a lot, but if he can figure out how to be involved for more time in the 90 minutes, he could be fantastic”

This is the conundrum that nobody can get their head around with Palmer. The story is the same almost every game. Even on his best days, he spends so much time on the periphery of a match that you are desperate to get him more involved – yet come the end of the game he’s more often than not got a goal or an assist.

We actually can’t think of a player we’ve ever seen pick up more goal contributions and win more points with less of an overall impact on a match. Often Palmer is the most isolated of the front 3, yet he’s producing more goals and assists than the other two combined.

It’s a quite unique characteristic, and pundits and fans still aren’t quite sure what to make of it.

Still, it’s working beautifully for Chelsea, who genuinely would be scraping along near the relegation zone without him.


  1. Chelsea board have to drop caicado and badeshele in order to get back our wining way

  2. I don’t know what they saying , how could a player be involved than what Parmar is doing giving Assist,scoring goals competing with even proven premier league strikers with the same numbers of goals , please give him all the credit he Parma desire,

  3. If Palmer were more willing to work defensively then Poch could play him more as a proper 10 (which would allow him to get on the ball more.). But, as we saw in the first Utd match (when Gallagher was suspended and Palmer started in his place), we can’t afford Palmer’s lack of defensive effort and discipline in the middle of the park.

    The pundits also weren’t wrong about his forcing some passes that weren’t on. His 68% pass completion was well below where it needs to be if he’s to become the fulcrum of our offense.

    So, despite his clear strengths as a creator and finisher, playing him on the wing is the best way to get some of his upside while minimizing his clear downsides. Hopefully, time and maturation will help him to understand that commitment in defense and a bit more patience in possession are key to him becoming a truly complete player.

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