Skip to content

Guardiola: Palmer wanted to leave Man City for 2 seasons

Alex Pantling / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Find the biggest stories from across the soccer world by visiting our Top Soccer News section and subscribing to push notifications.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said on Friday that Cole Palmer had wanted to leave the reigning Premier League champions for two seasons in a bid to find guaranteed first-team action.

"He was asking for two seasons to leave," Guardiola said. "I said, 'No, stay.' What could we do?

"In pre-season I said stay because Riyad (Mahrez) has gone and he said, 'No, I want to leave.' After two seasons, what could I say?"

Palmer had to compete for playing time with Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Jeremy Doku at City, convincing Guardiola to reluctantly accept the youngster's wishes.

Palmer will now be Chelsea's driving force against City in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley after leaving them in a surprise £42-million switch to the Blues in September.

The England forward has flourished at Chelsea, where his place in Mauricio Pochettino's attack is guaranteed and his performances have put him in the contention for the PFA Player of the Year award.

Palmer is the joint-top scorer in the Premier League after his four goals in Monday's 6-0 demolition of Everton moved him level with City's Erling Haaland on 20 this season.

While Palmer might enjoy knocking out the FA Cup holders this weekend, Pochettino believes he has already made his point after scoring a stoppage-time penalty to rescue a 4-4 draw against City at Stamford Bridge in November.

"It's his first consistent season playing, we need to be careful because he's still young, he's growing," Pochettino told reporters on Friday.

"He's already played twice against City in the Premier League. He's very grateful for City, with Pep Guardiola. He always talks very highly of them.

"He understood perfectly that for different reasons he wanted to prove himself in another club. He's not the type of person to want to prove something against his former club."

Prior to joining Chelsea, Palmer had played only 19 league games spread over three seasons, and had not scored in the Premier League.

Now he is Chelsea's talisman and one of the brightest emerging stars in Europe.

Palmer is likely to be selected in the England squad for Euro 2024, but Pochettino warned him not to be distracted by the increased attention and expectations surrounding him.

"He has to absorb the pressure to play in the Premier League consistently," the Argentine said.

"It's about the demands in his private life. He is top scorer. He maybe needs to pay attention to different things than before. 

"That's going to have an influence on how he is going to prepare himself, how he's going to rest and how he spends his energy.

"We need to be careful. We have the experience to manage this type of thing, when a young kid becomes a big star.

"Why is he not performing in a few months? Because his life has changed. He needs to learn from this experience."

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox