At 21 years of age, Kasey Palmer is relentlessly moving towards a critical point in his career. He’s still young, still learning, still has time to prove he has the talent to play at the Premier League level. After all, a player’s peak is generally considered to be somewhere between their 25th and 27th birthday.
But clubs stop thinking about players as up-and-coming prospects before that. It’s an amorphous window, but Palmer is edging closer towards it. This season was supposed to be the one in which he broke through. After making an impact at Huddersfield (despite missing significant time due to a hamstring injury) last season and even playing a few minutes in the playoff win that propelled them to the Premier League, this looked like his chance to play in England’s top level.
But it didn’t work out that way. He missed ten games with another hamstring injury. David Wagner only handed him five appearances in the first half of the season. He wasn’t in the squad for seven games after he recovered. Believing he needed more playing time than that, in January Chelsea ended his loan early and sent him to Derby County in the Championship. He made 16 appearances for the Rams, scored two goals with one assist, but never broke into their starting rotation. And with Derby eliminated from the playoff by Fulham, so ended his second loan of the season.
Unfortunate that we couldn’t go all the way. Thank you for all your support. I haven’t played as much as I would of liked to but it’s been another learning experience. I wish the lads and the club all the best in the future @dcfcofficial pic.twitter.com/grlxuEiWL7— #KP45 (@kaseypalmer45) May 16, 2018
Another loan is in the offing. So far there haven’t been any nibbles from a Premier League club. The Daily Mail is reporting that there is interest, however, from two clubs in the Championship. They’re Sheffield United and Norwich City. In fact, the Mail describes it as a tug of war, which may be true or it may be their typical brand of hyperbole.
Sheffield finished tenth, Norwich fourteenth last season. Sheffield scored more freely than the Canaries, which might suggest that the East Anglians have a greater need for Palmer’s attacking skills.
The summer break has scarcely started and there’s plenty of time yet for Chelsea — and Palmer — to find the best option for the attacking midfielder. In the longer term, however, time is beginning to run a little bit shorter.