Palmer has nothing to prove to Man City – Mauricio Pochettino

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Mauricio Pochettino is firm in his belief that Chelsea star Cole Palmer has no need to demonstrate anything to his former club Manchester City in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final.

Palmer is set to lead Chelsea’s charge against City at Wembley, having departed the Premier League champions in a surprising £42 million ($52 million) move to Chelsea in September.

City manager Pep Guardiola revealed on Friday that the 21-year-old had expressed his desire to leave for two seasons in pursuit of assured first-team opportunities.

“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 vie for playing time with Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, and Jeremy Doku at City, ultimately leading Guardiola to reluctantly accept the youngster’s wishes.

The English forward has thrived at Chelsea, where his position in Pochettino’s attacking lineup is secure, and his performances have propelled him into contention for the PFA Player of the Year award.

Palmer currently shares the top spot as the leading scorer in the Premier League, with four goals in Monday’s 6-0 victory over Everton, bringing his total to 20 for the season, level with City’s Erling Haaland.

While Palmer may relish the opportunity to knock out the FA Cup holders this weekend, Pochettino believes he has already made his mark, having scored a stoppage-time penalty to salvage 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 wants to prove something against his former club.”

Before joining Chelsea, Palmer had participated in just 19 league matches across three seasons, without scoring in the Premier League.

Today, he stands as Chelsea’s key player and among the most promising emerging talents in Europe.

Palmer is poised to earn a spot in the England squad for Euro 2024, yet Pochettino cautioned him against being swayed by the heightened 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.”