Southgate’s Euro Palmer Headache

Photo by Emilio Garcia on Unsplash

Gareth Southgate faces a selection and formation dilemma for the Euros thanks to the fine form of Cole Palmer who has forced his way into contention.

The best online sportsbooks here all have England as the Euro 2024 favourites (10/3), ahead of France (7/2) and Germany (11/2). England’s talented squad has the potential to bring some long-awaited silverware home to a football-loving nation, but Southgate has some serious questions to answer first.

This isn’t the first time in recent history that an England manager has faced the task of shoehorning the country’s best players into a midfield. Sven Goran Eriksson faced a similar dilemma when he had Gerrard, Lampard, Scholes, and Beckham at his disposal.

Finding the right balance will be key to England’s success, but will Southgate have to leave anyone out to facilitate this?

Cole Palmer’s Season So Far

Last season’s runaway goalscoring sensation Erling Haaland is joined at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts on 20, by Cole Palmer who is loving life at Chelsea having moved from Manchester City for a fee of around £40 million.

Nine of Palmer’s goals have come from the penalty spot for an underperforming Chelsea team and his ability to play on either wing or as a 10 means he should feature for England one way or another.

As well as being the joint top goalscorer this season, Palmer has also chipped in with 9 assists, making him Chelsea’s best performer by some distance.

England’s Other Main Midfield Options

England will undoubtedly start with Harry Kane as the focal point for their attack at the Euro during the summer. It had been expected that Foden and Saka would be deployed on the wings with Bellingham enjoying a more attacking role.

Palmer’s form has seen a lot of people questioning whether this will be how England lines up, with a host of other players on the periphery, hoping to get a call-up.

Jude Bellingham

At just 20 years of age, Jude Bellingham has already shown how talented he is for England, Borussia Dortmund, and his new club Real Madrid. He has enjoyed a more attacking role for Real and has been rewarded with an incredible debut La Liga season.

So far this term he has scored 16 goals in 24 league starts, adding a further 4 assists for a Real Madrid team that look unstoppable in their pursuit of another league title.

Declan Rice

Declan Rice’s deeper role for Arsenal and England means he is unlikely to be affected by Palmer’s form and inclusion.

Rice’s £100 million transfer from West Ham to Arsenal, Arteta’s team have built on last season’s title disappointment and are in a great position as the season nears its end.

Rice has been instrumental to his team’s form and will be key to England’s Euro chances.

Bukayo Saka

Saka’s 14 goals and 8 assists make him one of the deadliest wingers in the Premiership. At 22, he has already established himself as one of England’s biggest attacking threats.

Saka plays as a right winger, and despite Palmer being left-footed, he does enjoy cutting in. Saka will likely hold onto his spot as he continues to score and create goals by using his pace and skill.

Phil Foden

Cole Palmer could have Phil Foden to thank for his current form. One of the main reasons Palmer was unlikely to get the minutes he wanted at Manchester City under Guardiola was the quality of Foden.

Foden’s 14 goals and 7 assists so far this season show that Guardiola was right to stick with him, but he will still feel disappointed to have lost Palmer.

Potential Formations

There are a few ways that Palmer could fit into England’s team this summer. A 4-2-3-1 formation could allow Palmer to fill the number 10 role with Foden and Saka on the wings and Bellingham and Rice holding deeper roles.

Palmer’s adaptability could see him play anywhere behind Kane, while Saka has the ability to switch flanks and Foden can also drop into midfield or fill the number 10 role.

Bellingham’s form this season has come from playing slightly higher up the pitch, and Southgate will have to weigh up the pros and cons of moving players to fit his preferred system.

Wrapping Up

Southgate also has players like Conor Gallagher, Jarrod Bowen, Kobbie Mainoo, Kalvin Phillips, Jordan Henderson, James Ward-Prowse, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek who will also be keen to feature.

There will be a host of top stars at this summer’s Euro 2024 competition, but Kane will still be the favourite for top goalscorer among UK bettors due to his prolific strike rate and the fact he will be England’s main penalty taker. If Palmer does start, losing his method for almost 50% of his goals could have an impact on his output.

A selection of gambling sites are currently placing Saka, Bellingham, and Foden just behind Kane in the betting odds. However, Palmer’s incredible season could disrupt this.