Norwich City sold their best and most valuable player, James Maddison, their Player of the Year and a Championship Young Player of the Year nominee, to Leicester City last week. Now they have £22m burning a hole in their pocket, not to mention a shortage of creativity in their midfield. Apparently, they’re looking to address both of those issues with Chelsea academy graduate Kasey Palmer.
Norwich were linked last month as well, just after the season ended, but with Maddison gone, they’re stepping up their efforts. According to Sky Sports, they are set to make an approach for the 21-year-old this week. And it doesn’t sound like they are looking for a loan.
SKYSPORTS Norwich to bid for Chelsea's Palmer Norwich are expected to step up their search for a creative midfielder later this week with a bid for Chelsea’s Kasey Palmer, Sky Sports News understands. https://t.co/qXCMru0C66— Chelsea FC RSS Feeds (@CFCrss) June 28, 2018
Palmer spent the first half of last season on loan at Huddersfield Town in the Premier League, before dropping back down to the Championship in January with Derby County. It was not quite as impressive of a year as his first professional season, in 2016-17, when he helped Huddersfield achieve promotion from the Championship to the Premier League, but he did finish the year on a solid note with Derby. He certainly would be an excellent player for any team in England’s second tier.
A potential permanent transfer for Palmer would make him the latest promising academy graduate to move on from the loan charade. But while that may play into the notion of Chelsea starting to scale back the operation (especially with Emenalo gone), Palmer has reached the point in his career where this decision now has to be made. It’s part of the natural progression for him, just as it was for players like Chalobah, Ake, or has become for Boga and Kalas and probably many others. There is certainly an upper age limit for loanees, though 21 is nowhere near it. However, there is a sense that these decisions are being made earlier, with the likes of Jonathan Panzo and Harvey St Clair already moving on as teenagers rather than after a few years of temporary assignments.
In a way, this is the inevitable evolution of the loan game, with better and better prospects coming through the academy needing proper playing time earlier and earlier in their careers. The transition from the youth to the first-team remains as hard as ever, if not increasingly so. For better or worse, this path of Chelsea player development won’t change either just with new coaches; it will only change with a new direction from ownership.
That said, transfers with buyback clauses are better for all involved than loans, so this evolution isn’t necessarily a bad thing.