As Chelsea’s 2015/2016 petered off into a 10th place finish, there was a clear opportunity for Guus Hiddink to include some of the clubs more talented youngsters in the match day squads. He did just that. When the club faced Liverpool on 11 May, there were a host of youngsters from the academy named on the bench. Amongst them was Kasey Palmer who was handed the number 42 shirt for the end of the season.
The attacking midfielder began his career at Charlton Athletic, before being scouted by current club Chelsea in 2013 when he was just 16. Following the move, he spent his first season in the Under-19s squad, before being moved up to the Under-21s, at the age of just 17.
Irrepressible performances with the Under-21’s have really caught the eye this season and seen Palmer’s ability lauded. An early-season hat-trick against Liverpool set the tone for what would be a goal laden campaign for the youngster – 16 in all competitions.
A stellar performance against Warren Joyce’s Manchester United Under-21 outfit was one of a number of standout moments for the burgeoning talent this term. Taking the game to Manchester United, Palmer put Chelsea ahead with an expertly taken free-kick that beat Johnstone for pace. He continued to run the show and was the hub of everything good Chelsea produced. A clever nutmeg on United first teamer, Phil Jones, was another notable moment from the night’s highlight reel, something Palmer himself deemed good enough to Instagram. The party tricks came alongside productivity to excellent effect. A continual thorn in the Untied side foe the whole game.
Then there was the final of the EUFA Youth League – Chelsea versus Paris Saint-Germain. Playing behind lone forward Tammy Abraham, he often found space to trouble François Rodrigues’ charges and continually proved problematic for the French side. It was Palmer’s corner in the 10th minute that forced Chelsea’s opener. Paris Saint Germain drew parity just after half time, before Palmer burst through the middle and tucked home the winner.
The 19-year-old recently put pen to paper and extended his stay with Chelsea until 2019. Palmer now needs to graduate from Adi Viveash’s side and find his route into first team football, whether that be through impressing incoming manager Antonio Conte, or going out on loan and gaining experience.