Contrary to what Jose Mourinho may tell you, the Community Shield probably isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things.
While Manchester City will be disappointed with their 1-0 loss to Leicester in the 2021/22 season’s curtain-raiser, there were a couple of bright sparks to come out of it – notably Cole Palmer’s contribution.
The highly-rated City youngster started the match and showed that he’s most definitely one for the future during his performance.
Here’s what you need to know about him.
Predominantly an unshackled, creative midfielder, Palmer is also able to play in a variety of attacking positions.
His unerring ability to glide past opposition players has also seen him be deployed as a right-winger for Manchester City youth sides, while an impressive prolific streak has made him a suitable option up front – a versatility from midfield that was so crucial for Pep Guardiola’s side last term.
His standout technical prowess comes as a bit of a surprise when you first lay eyes upon him. Rather gangly in stature and standing at 6’2, Palmer is comparable to players like Kai Havertz, who can also add an aerial threat in advanced positions.
Palmer was well and truly in his infancy when coaches started to realise his worth and potential.
The now 19-year-old commenced his journey in football at NJ Wythenshawe, a local club in his hometown. One of the club’s coaches, Graeme Fowler, recounted his memories of a young Palmer to Manchester Evening News.
“I walked in the field and saw this little blonde kid who was only dead small and just running with the ball. At that age, the kids just chase the ball and he had ten kids chasing him. He was running with it and would just do a simple turn and go the other way and the kids would then follow him the other way. They couldn’t get the ball off him, wherever he turned, and he was a year younger than them all.
“He was miles above everyone brain-wise. His technical ability was really good; I had a lot of good technical players but his brain was just so far advanced for a footballing brain at a young age it was incredible.
“He was doing stuff at seven and eight that I didn’t see 14-year-olds do. His quickness of thought on the pitch, the things that he saw, and his technical ability to do stuff and be inventive, he was really good to watch. I always say that I had some good players but he stands out as the best player I’ve ever coached.”
Due to those staggering early performances, Palmer had two of the country’s biggest clubs fighting over him in 2010.
Despite not possessing the natural blistering pace that normally attracts heavyweights to raw talent, Manchester United also took a keen interest in the midfielder.
In the end, Palmer and his family were more sold by City’s pitch and joined the academy at Under-8 level.
During an injury-stricken period for City last season, Guardiola confirmed his intention to utilise the wealth of young talent at his disposal in the club’s youth sides.
Following his team’s 2-1 victory over Bournemouth in round three of the League Cup, the City boss told the club website: “We have Cole Palmer who will be an exceptional player.” He then gave him 90 minutes in their 3-0 win over Burnley in the following round.
That full debut was followed by a cameo in City’s 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Marseille a month later, before a third appearance for the senior side in Sunday’s Community Shield.
Any clubs hoping to lure Palmer away on a permanent deal anytime soon may be disappointed.
While there has been talk of the 19-year-old spending some time on loan in the Championship this season, his long-term future at the Etihad is as secure as it can be.
This summer Palmer was given a new five-year deal by the Premier League champions, tying him down to City until the summer of 2026.
As well as being awarded a medal for City’s League Cup triumph last campaign, Palmer has vast amounts of experience on the winning side – even doing so as a leader.
The midfielder was given the captain’s armband throughout the Under-18 side’s hugely successful 2019/20 season, in which they picked up the Under-18 Premier League and Premier League Cup trophies, while also winning the FA Youth Cup.
Last season Palmer also played a prevalent part in Manchester City Under-23s’ Premier League 2 success.
A large part of that glory has been Palmer’s previously mentioned goal output, as well as his creativity.
In the 2019/20 campaign, the midfielder bagged 15 goals and five assists in 14 Under-18 Premier League appearances, grabbed an assist and the winning strike in his side’s 3-2 victory over Chelsea in the Under-18 Premier League Cup final, and notched a brace in a 6-0 win over Stoke in the FA Youth Cup final.
And after a promotion to the Under-23 side, Palmer continued his goalscoring form as he registered 13 to go with six assists in 16 Premier League 2 games – only out-and-out striker Liam Delap hit the net more times.
It’s safe to say he’s superior to the level he’s been playing at for the past couple of years.
Unsurprisingly, Palmer has been a regular feature throughout England’s youth teams, having represented his country from Under-15 to Under-18 levels.
The City man made a whopping 30 appearances for the Under-15s before quickly progressing to the Under-18s, where he’s played six times and scored once.
It might be in the not-so-distant future that we see him don a senior jersey.