Owen urges Southgate to start two-cap Chelsea star over two-time reigning England POTY

Jason Soutar
Cole Palmer should start over Bukayo Saka for England, according to Michael Owen
Cole Palmer should start over Bukayo Saka for England, according to Michael Owen

Former England international Michael Owen believes Chelsea’s Cole Palmer should start over Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka at this summer’s European Championships.

Palmer has been outstanding in a struggling Chelsea team this season, carrying them to seventh in the Premier League with three games remaining.

His 21 goals in the top flight have given the Blues a fighting chance of qualifying for Europe in what has been an extremely difficult season for Mauricio Pochettino and his players.

On top of his 21 goals, Palmer has notched nine assists in the Premier League and is in contention for the PFA Footballer of the Year award.

Saka, meanwhile, has had a largely inferior season, providing a pathetic 25 goal contributions for the team top of the league, while scoring four and assisting four in nine Champions League appearances – his first taste of the competition.

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This horrible season from the Arsenal flop should see him dropped to the bench for England at Euro 2024, says former Manchester United and Liverpool striker Owen.

“I would now start Cole Palmer over Bukayo Saka,” Owen said. “I don’t think you can ignore Palmer’s form and quality any longer.

“I had him in my squad a few months ago but now he’s one of the best players in the Premier League. He might even get Player of the Year, possibly the Golden Boot, and that’s in a struggling team.

“So he’s now a must in my mind. I would play him on the right. I’d have Foden and him, one on the right and one central, then have Rice as a lone number 6, then Bellingham and Foden as 8s stroke 10s and Cole on the right.”

📣 TO THE COMMENTS! Should Palmer start over Saka for England? Join the debate here.

Cole Palmer over Bukayo Saka? Don’t be ridiculous

What a completely rational take from Owen, who is not being reactionary whatsoever.

Yes, Palmer has been excellent in a pretty poor Chelsea side this season and without him they would probably be in the bottom half with Pochettino out of a job.

The 22-year-old absolutely deserves to go to the Euros and starting him would hardly be a controversial decision, but dropping Saka to fit him in is blasphemous and something Gareth Southgate will never consider.

The issue with fitting Palmer in is that someone will have to miss out, or Southgate risks leaving his team open in midfield, which knowing him, is not going to happen.

If someone is dropped for him, it should and will not be Saka – who has been named England Player of the Year two times in a row.

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