Any player recovering from a serious long term injury faces a tough battle. But one undergoing that process in a new country and a new league will find things even more difficult.
That’s perhaps why it took Emerson Palmieri so long to settle in at Chelsea. Arriving last January on the back of a very serious knee injury and subsequent layoff, the Italian has struggled to get past the established Marcos Alonso at left back.
That has changed since Christmas however, with the former Roma man now seemingly Maurizio Sarri’s first choice, a little over a year after arriving. That’s slow going, and in an interview with Sky Sports he talked about what he’d had to adapt to when coming to the Premier League.
“I think I have progressed in the speed of play. In the Premier League it is so much faster, you cannot really have two touches on the ball before you get two or three opponents on you,” the left back said.
“This is something I have grown on, learned to play the ball faster and be more aggressive.”
We’ve seen some evidence of that recently, although it’s still a work in progress. He doesn’t seem to have the dynamic burst down the left in his locker anymore, but that’s likely to be Sarri system as much as anything.
Now he’s playing a lot we should expect him to adapt even faster, and next season will see us with two really good options competing for that spot in the team.