Chelsea would be stupid to let Conor Gallagher leave
It said everything about the failure of Chelsea’s season that they only sealed safety from relegation with victory over Bournemouth on Saturday, four games from the end of the 2022/23 campaign. Nobody at Stamford Bridge will be sorry to the back of this season, but a pivotal summer lies ahead for the Blues.
Of course, the biggest decision to be made concerns the managerial position at the club which remains vacant after the sacking of Graham Potter. Frank Lampard is in place as interim manager, but the former midfielder is merely keeping the seat warm for the permanent boss that will succeed him – former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is the current favourite to take over.
This is just one decision Chelsea have to make, though. Their squad is so bloated that several players will surely be pushed out the Stamford Bridge exit door with Conor Gallagher reportedly among those Chelsea are open to selling. Liverpool are believed to be one suitor of the midfielder, putting Chelsea in a difficult position. Borussia Dortmund are reportedly also monitoring things.
Gallagher has shown glimpses of his ability this season, scoring the opening goal in Chelsea’s 3-1 away win at the Vitality Stadium. Deployed in a role that permitted him to make late runs into the opposition box, the 23-year-old gives the Blues goal threat and dynamism from midfield. He is a talented player and he could get even better.
“It felt a lot better,” Gallagher said after the comprehensive win over Bournemouth, Lampard’s first win as interim manager. “I think everyone seemed a bit more confident in what we were doing and it definitely worked. We created a lot of chances and we controlled the game. It was a good team performance and we just need to carry it on now.”
The goal Gallagher scored showcased the threat he can offer a Chelsea team that doesn’t always have the sharpest of cutting edges in front of goal. “It was a nice goal,” he said. “I’ve been making the box whenever I play and it hasn’t quite dropped to me as many times as I’d like this season. Thankfully this time it came straight to me.”
Chelsea might need to sell several players and trim their squad to allay Financial Fair Play (FFP) concerns, and to stand a chance of building a coherent team on the pitch, but allowing Gallagher to join a rival, such as Liverpool or another Premier League club near the top of the table, would be a mistake.
Look at how Manchester City have been made to regret allowing Arsenal to sign Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko last summer with the Gunners now the biggest threat to the reigning Premier League champions. Gallagher could flourish at another club and make Chelsea rue his departure for years to come, particularly if he ends up at Liverpool.
From Gallagher’s point of view, an exit from Stamford Bridge could be appealing. The midfielder has been a Chelsea player from a very young age, but there is so much uncertainty around the club at this moment in time it’s difficult for anyone to plot career course there. Gallagher could find greater clarity somewhere else, whether that’s at Liverpool or another club.
Under new ownership, Chelsea are suffering from an identity crisis, both as a club and a team. Gallagher, as someone who has Chelsea at heart, is someone who could help address this. He certainly has the talent to be a part of the club’s future, as demonstrated by the impact he made against Bournemouth. Chelsea’s loss would be another club’s gain.