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HomeSport'Palmer could be next big star - but his Man City future...

‘Palmer could be next big star – but his Man City future is uncertain’


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Cole Palmer is the first Englishman to score in the Uefa Super Cup since Gary Cahill for Chelsea in 2012.Cole Palmer has long been touted as one of the next big talents off Manchester City’s production line – and demonstrated exactly why in the fierce heat and humidity of Athens as his side won the Uefa Super Cup. The 21-year-old from Wythenshawe, admired by clubs outside Manchester as well as City, received the seal of approval from near and far as Pep Guardiola’s side added the latest piece of silverware to last season’s trophy haul of the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup. He scored City’s equaliser with a deft header just after the hour, showcasing the languid skills that also saw him score a spectacular goal in the Community Shield against Arsenal at Wembley.As his side came from behind to win 5-4 on penalties after an entertaining encounter with Sevilla ended 1-1, Palmer took the plaudits.The appreciation from afar came from Saudi Arabia in the shape of a tweet from Al-Ahli’s Riyad Mahrez, one of his illustrious Manchester City predecessors on the right-wing role he occupied in Athens. Mahrez tweeted applause when Palmer, who was deservedly voted man of the match, was substituted. Palmer also earned a hug from his perfectionist manager after a performance which hinted at what a special talent he could become under the Catalan’s expert tutelage.There has been talk of interest from West Ham United as City pursue their Brazilian star Lucas Paqueta, but this was a display that suggested Palmer could do big things when surrounded by this special squad at Etihad Stadium.Guardiola, though, suggested the England Under-21 international’s future at the club remained uncertain.”I don’t know [if he will stay],” said the City boss. “When we arrived, I had the opinion that he wanted to leave but now I don’t know.”I don’t think a loan is going to happen. He’s going to stay or he’s going to be sold.”He showed character – it is not easy to play defenders like [Marcos] Acuna – a young player in these stages, it’s not easy. He played good and made a fantastic goal too.”Guardiola had nothing to do with some of the narrative from elsewhere that the Uefa Super Cup encounter was a glorified friendly – effectively Europe’s version of the Community Shield.The scenes when Sevilla’s Nemanja Gudelj crashed a penalty against the bar to give City victory after nine successful kicks was ample demonstration of that. The celebrations were full-on, a beaming Guardiola theatrically kissing Erling Haaland as he paraded the trophy before City’s fans, rejoicing in a second major European success in matter of months after waiting so long to lift the Champions League.Guardiola and City wanted this trophy as further affirmation they are now firmly placed among Europe’s football elite – and so it proved. It did not come without lots of sweat – literally on this boiling night in Athens – and some fine work from keeper Ederson, whose save from Sevilla goalscorer Youssef En-Nesyri to prevent the Spanish Europa League holders doubling their lead in the second half proved to be a crucial moment. ‘Palmer at ease in elite company’City departed Greece with one large cloud on their horizon after a very downbeat Guardiola revealed on Tuesday that the brilliant Belgian Kevin de Bruyne could be out for three or four months if he requires surgery on a “serious” hamstring injury. City’s creative forces were already reduced by the departures of Mahrez and the great match-winner and former captain Ilkay Gundogan. So the removal of De Bruyne from his resources was a problem he could do without. It is likely he will look outside his squad to solve the immediate problem, with Paqueta a prime target and Rennes forward Jeremy Doku also touted.But Guardiola made no attempt to disguise how damaging a lengthy absence for De Bruyne could prove to be. The midfielder’s supply line to the prolific Haaland, creating 11 of his remarkable total of 52 goals last season, was a key factor in the club’s success and they will miss his golden touch and creative ability until he returns to fitness. Guardiola will be looking into how he can compensate for De Bruyne’s absence with his usual forensic attention to detail and his track record suggests he will examine every option to ensure City remain the unstoppable force they have become in recent seasons. This may mean more chances for Palmer – if he stays – as he looked every inch a player ready to move his game on to the next level.He was at ease and confident in such elite company with his ability to go past players, and deliver the inviting crosses from out wide that have been such a rich source of goals for City – and get on the scoresheet himself. As City’s players conducted a lap of honour and the playing surface at Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis was littered with the golden ticker tape of celebration, Palmer wore a satisfied smile of a job well done and deservedly so. The big question now is: Where will he continue his footballing education?

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