The Blues identified the forward as a transfer target weeks ago and their interest has been driven by talent spotter Joe Shields, who knows the 21-year-old from his time as head of academy recruitment and talent management at Manchester City.
There is no doubt Palmer is a talent. He was one of England’s best players in their European Under-21 Championship triumph this summer, he scored a brilliant goal against Arsenal in the Community Shield this month and some have compared him to Phil Foden.
But £45million is a lot, given he has made just three Premier League starts, and it is not obvious where he fits in at Chelsea among their glut of attacking options.
As their transfer spending since last summer nears £1billion, do Chelsea really need to splash out more money on yet another forward?
Palmer’s best position is as a right winger or as a No10. For a wide spot, when everyone is fit, he will be competing with Raheem Sterling, Christopher Nkunku, Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke and even Ian Maatsen and new-look wide player Ben Chilwell.
Sterling looks to have nailed down the spot on the right after a strong start to the season. Madueke deputised for him in Wednesday night’s 2-1 win against AFC Wimbledon, winning and scoring a penalty to help Chelsea avoid a Carabao Cup shock at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking after he scored in the Super Cup this month, Palmer admitted his City future could depend on his game time and said: “I just want to play football.”
So his move to Chelsea, where there is arguably more competition for a regular starting spot than there is at the Etihad, feels like a risky move for his career.
Palmer will, of course, back himself to make his mark at Stamford Bridge, but it is a brave move for a player who has played 41 times for City, scoring six goals, since his debut in 2020.
Selling Palmer is also a risk for City. If he becomes a star, then they will have let him leave for a relatively modest sum.
The move is also a gamble for Chelsea, who will get another young forward signed to a six or seven-year contract.