The game-changing £40m West Ham transfer fumble Chelsea will be absolutely delighted with

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The Hammers missed out on signing a big name star to Chelsea last summer.

Regret. That gnawing, feathered swine. Marlon Brando once said, ‘I think to regret is useless in life. It belongs to the past.’ Evidently, he didn’t have to endure the torment of watching Cole Palmer tear the Premier League a new one on a weekly basis for one of your biggest rivals while knowing deep down that he could have been playing for you instead.

To that end, David Moyes probably harbours a regret or two. While the rest of the country coos over Chelsea’s nonchalant boy prince, the West Ham boss fumes away in the shadows - muttering curses under his breath, kicking pebbles, occasionally reaching out to Pep Guardiola to see if he’s had any more thoughts about starting that support group he mentioned a couple of weeks ago. He could even drop Kalvin Phillips off while he’s up that way. Two birds with one stone, and all that.

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You see, according to Karren Brady, with all of her boardroom intel at the London Stadium, West Ham came agonisingly close to prising Palmer away from Manchester City last summer before Chelsea intervened and ruined their party. Writing in a column for The Sun, Lord Sugar’s favourite idiot wrangler said: “Financial rules on allowable losses may have played a part in the decision [for City to sell Palmer] but, still, from all the newsreels I have seen, Cole is as cool a dude in front of goal as Jimmy Greaves himself. Which is probably why David Moyes tried very hard to sign him. We even had a deal agreed with City until Chelsea swooped.”

Brady continues: ‘Pep Guardiola was certain Cole Palmer would be a star for Manchester City yet allowed him to go to Chelsea for about £40 million. On the evidence of 20 goals this season, three of them of Greaves-like quality on Monday [vs Everton], you might expect that Guardiola is kicking himself.’

And kicking himself Pep might be, but perhaps not as much as Moyes and his boys. In truth, not even the most optimistic of soothsayers would have predicted that Palmer would flourish in the manner that he has over the past few months. Heading into the final stretch of the campaign, the 21-year-old sits high atop the Premier League golden boot rankings alongside former teammate Erling Haaland, and feels likely to be a concrete inclusion in England’s travelling contingent for this summer’s Euro 2024 excursion. There are even those who would suggest that he should be handed a starting berth by Gareth Southgate.

And all of this is to say that, assuming he had performed to even a fraction of his obvious potential in East London, then he surely would have had a notable impact on the Hammers and their fortunes this season. Imagine, if you will, an attacking unit consisting of Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta, Mohammed Kudus, and, just for the hell of it, an extra pinch of Palmer spliced in there for good measure. That’s positively goosebump-inducing. Or at least, it would have been.

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There is almost a strange irony in the fact that Chelsea, a team who are constantly maligned for their ramshackle recruitment strategy, may well have made the signing of the season. Then again, you chuck enough hedgehogs at a dartboard, one is bound to stick in the bullseye eventually.

Palmer has been a revelation at Stamford Bridge, and with every passing masterclass, West Ham’s ruefulness must grow and grow and grow. The Hammers’ loss is, however, very much the Blues’ gain. How delighted Chelsea will be that Moyes’ men fumbled the bag, so to speak.

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