‘He always talks highly of them’ – Chelsea’s Poch discusses Cole Palmer as Blues attacker aims to knock former club Manchester City out of FA Cup

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MAURICIO Pochettino said Cole Palmer was “grateful” to Pep Guardiola and Manchester City ahead of the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday. 

Chelsea signed Palmer, 21, from City for £40million plus £2.5million in add-ons at the end of last summer’s transfer window. 

Palmer had made just three Premier League starts under Guardiola but is in the running for player of the year after 23 goals in all competitions this season. 

Guardiola revealed ahead of tomorrow’s game that Palmer twice asked to leave the club to pursue more first-team opportunities. 

One of Palmer’s goals this season was a stoppage-time penalty in the 4-4 draw with City at Stamford Bridge last November. 

“Honestly, always we never judged the players when we signed the players but we believe they can perform. It is true he is performing in a very good way. I think it’s his first consistent season playing. Also we need to be careful because he is young and he is growing,” Pochettino said in his pre-match press conference as he aims to lead the Blues to a second cup final this season. 

“He already played twice in the Premier League [against City]. He is very grateful to Manchester City and to coach Pep Guardiola. He always talks very highly about them and Pep. He’s not this type of player to have something inside.

“I think he understood perfectly that maybe for different reasons he wanted to prove himself in another club. I think also a thank you to Manchester City for giving the opportunity to him to move to another club. He is very grateful and talked kindly about Pep and Manchester City.”

Chelsea’s 6-0 win over Everton on Monday saw an embarrassing squabble over who would take a penalty with the hosts 4-0 up. 

The game against City could be decided by spot-kicks, and Pochettino revealed the incident was discussed this week. 

He said: “We were talking a lot this week because we were practising penalties. I think it’s clear. I made clear after the game. We had a meeting with the players and staff and they were involved, also the sporting director.

“I explained my feelings and in the future it cannot happen like this. The message was clear and now we need to move [on]. They are clever and understand the situation. In another way it’s good that a player wants to take responsibility for a penalty, show the character and personality of the team and the players.

“But they need to respect discipline and the rules which are so important. The way they wanted to do things was in a very wrong way. It’s important for them to learn and for us to apply common sense and act in a different way in the future. Now all is clear we need to move on.”

Meanwhile, Pochettino gave an update on forward Christopher Nkunku as he recovers from a hamstring injury. 

“They assess him day by day and now in the last few days he has the possibility to be involved in some parts of the training session,” Pochettino said. 

“We now need to see the reaction of his body and then how he is going to evolve. We hope he can involve him and he will be involved as soon as possible, or before the end of the season.”


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