Pep Guardiola: Cole Palmer asked to leave Manchester City two years before Chelsea exit

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says Cole Palmer had been asking to leave the club for two years before last summer’s move to Chelsea as he prepares to face his former player in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final.

City had wanted to keep Palmer in the summer, particularly following the sale of Riyad Mahrez to Al Ahli in July, but the academy product wished to move on in search of regular minutes and joined Chelsea in a £42.5million ($52.8m) deal on deadline day.

The 21-year-old has scored 20 goals in 25 Premier League appearances for Chelsea and his four goals against Everton on Monday evening took him level with Erling Haaland at the top of the division’s goal scoring charts.

Asked if he had any regrets over Palmer, Guardiola replied: “I don’t know. He’s an exceptional player when he was here. I said many times, I didn’t give the minutes that maybe he deserved and now he has at Chelsea. I understand completely.

“He’s a shy guy with a lot of potential. It is what it is. He’s playing fantastic so what can I say, the decision has been made for many reasons.

“He was asking for two seasons to leave and I said stay. He said he wanted to leave. What could we do? I said stay because Riyad is gone but for two seasons he wanted to leave. Playing at that level is exceptional.”

Palmer joined City at under-6 level and featured 25 times in all competitions for the club last season, but just two of his 14 Premier League outings came as a starter.


Why Palmer’s form for Chelsea doesn’t mean City regret his exit

He has made 36 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea this term, scoring 23 goals, and earned his maiden senior England call up in November.

Palmer scored and assisted in Chelsea’s 4-2 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Leicester City to set up Saturday’s semi-final clash against his former club.

Guardiola has revealed that Erling Haaland is a doubt for the fixture, but Kevin De Bruyne is expected to be available.

The pair were withdrawn ahead of full-time in the Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid on Wednesday.

“Kevin feels well. Erling, we will see,” he said.

“Erling felt something, a muscular issue that’s why he’s not able to continue.

“I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. A little bit niggles, a little bit of a problem, we’ll see how it plays out.”



Breaking down the brilliance of Chelsea’s Cole Palmer – ‘Within one touch, he can hurt you’

(Lindsey Parnaby/AFP via Getty Images)

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