"One of the best" – Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders heaps praise on Chelsea star ahead of EFL Cup final

Pep Lijnders will leave Liverpool at the end of the ongoing 2023-24 season.
Pep Lijnders will leave Liverpool at the end of the ongoing 2023-24 season.

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has showered special praise on Chelsea new boy Cole Palmer ahead of their 2023-24 EFL Cup final this Sunday (February 25).

Earlier on the summer transfer deadline day, the Blues secured Palmer's signature in a potential £42.5 million move from Manchester City. They eased in the versatile midfielder into their first-team in his first few weeks with the 21-year-old hitting form from October last year.

A two-cap England international, Palmer has emerged as the difference-maker for the Blues quite often this campaign. The left-footed star has bagged 12 goals and laid out nine assists, including 10 goals and six assists in 21 league outings, in 29 appearances so far.

During a pre-match press conference, Lijnders asserted that Palmer has proved to be one of the best Premier League signings this season. He told reporters (h/t The Boot Room):

"I think one of the best signings this year in the Premier League is Palmer; taking him from a rival, a young player, and performing like that."

Palmer, whose contract is set to expire in June 2030, has faced Liverpool once so far in the ongoing campaign. He completed 35 of 39 attempted passes and four of seven dribbles, and won seven of 11 duels as a striker in Chelsea's 4-1 loss away at Anfield last month.

Mauricio Pochettino sends message ahead of Chelsea-Liverpool clash in EFL Cup final

During a recent presser, Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino suggested that his team are ready to lock horns with Liverpool and lift the EFL Cup trophy on Sunday. He said (h/t football.london):

"It means a lot for us, the coaching staff to arrive in the final and to challenge a team like Liverpool and win our first title. It's a dream for us, the coaching staff. We have 90 minutes to achieve that and we are going to fight. The team is ready. It's an amazing chance."

Queried to opine on Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp's comments about his side being the underdogs in the EFL Cup final, Pochettino responded:

"Because he's one of the best, with Pep [Guardiola], coaches in the world. He's clever enough. He knows that when you play a final, circumstances can happen. If they are not favorites, we are not favorites. They have experience to compete like a team, be involved in different finals. For some of us, it's maybe their first final."

Chelsea, who have splashed over £1 billion in the past four windows, have won 17 and lost 11 of their 34 matches across competitions this season. They have scored 65 times and shipped 48 goals along the way.

The Reds, on the other hand, have been in excellent form, challenging for trophies on four different arenas this term. They have recorded 28 wins and four defeats in 39 overall outings, finding the back of the net a staggering 100 times and shipping 39 goals in the process.

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Edited by Debkalpa Banerjee