Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has revealed that Cole Palmer requested a move away from the club for two years. The attacking phenom previously signed a five-year contract with City in 2021. However, despite being just 21, Palmer asked team officials for a transfer away due to lack of playing time. He was eventually granted his wish on September 1, 2023, with a $50 million transfer to rivals Chelsea.

“In preseason I said stay because Riyad [Mahrez] has gone and [Palmer] said ‘no, I want to leave’,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday. “After two seasons, what could I say? He was asking for two seasons to leave. I said ‘no, stay’. What could we do?”

“I said many times, I didn’t give him the minutes that he maybe deserved and wanted, the minutes he now has at Chelsea. I understand that completely. But I am happy for him because he is a lovely guy. He is playing good and is an incredible threat.”

Although Chelsea continues to struggle as a team, Palmer has been a standout for new coach Mauricio Pochettino. The Englishman has racked up 23 goals and 13 assists in 39 total fixtures with the Blues this season. Palmer was always rated highly at City, but few people imagined that he would make such a big impact so early for Chelsea.

Palmer had tough competition to get into City’s starting XI

Guardiola has claimed that he had no choice but to sanction a deal to sell Palmer. Nevertheless, the budding star may have opted to remain with the reigning European champions if he was given more chances. Along with Mahrez, Palmer was competing for a spot in the starting lineup with stars such as Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and even Kevin De Bruyne.

When fit, the Belgian superstar easily makes any club’s starting XI in the world. Injuries and fatigue, however, have hindered De Bruyne’s playing time during the current campaign. He has managed just 11 combined appearances in Guardiola’s starting lineup in the Premier League and Champions League. The midfielder is also now 32 years old, and his current contract expires next summer.

Phil Foden remains an important piece of the puzzle for City as well. The youngster is also regularly deployed in similar roles as Palmer. Both stars typically rotate between the right wing and a more central attacking position. Nevertheless, Guardiola could fit both players into a regular starting lineup.

City could have sold Portuguese midfielder to keep Palmer

This leaves Silva as a potential odd man out. The Portugal international nearly departed City this past summer as well. Barcelona desperately wanted to sign the versatile attacker ahead of the current campaign. Financial issues eventually blocked the deal though. The Spanish side, however, is expected to return for Silva this summer. Barca star Joao Felix even recently claimed that he believes he has convinced his compatriot to join the club.

Assuming Silva leaves City this season and De Bruyne follows in 2025, the Premier League leaders will have sacrificed losing out on Palmer to keep their aging squad together for just one additional season. While City will likely not have any issues reloading, they may regret the decision to sell Palmer.

The new Chelsea signing will get a chance at revenge when he faces City at the weekend. The Blues and Cityzens play an FA Cup semifinal match at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, April 20. Palmer has already scored against his former club during a previous Premier League matchup in November. He will now be looking to take out City in a massive cup fixture.