No player embodies the ideological revolution taking place at Crystal Palace under Patrick Vieira right now like Conor Gallagher. He epitomises how a new approach is being taken at Selhurst Park. While the 21-year-old might not have featured under the more pragmatic Roy Hodgson, he has become a key figure for the Eagles this season.
Gallagher has four goals and two assists in 10 Premier League appearances this season, yet that doesn’t quite illustrate his importance to Vieira’s side. This form was enough to earn him a first ever call-up to the senior England squad ahead of the final 2022 World Cup qualifier against San Marino, underlining the progress Gallagher has made.
“To me, he is one of those characters that you can see his ability, but his mentality and his mindset look like they are going to take him beyond where a lot of players might get to,” Gareth Southgate explained after calling up Gallagher.
“It is clear the energy he plays with, the approach to every game, the desire, the willingness to work for the team. They are all attributes that we have seen in other players that have progressed and had good careers. He is still in those formative stages, but he has earned the right to be with us, without a doubt.”
As a modern midfielder, Conor Gallagher has it all. He is technically able on the ball, is exceptionally mobile and knows when to make late runs into the box. For someone still so young, and for someone playing only his second top flight season, Gallagher also has a refined final product. When he receives the ball in the final third, something tends to happen.
On paper, Gallagher has been deployed on the right side of Crystal Palace’s midfield trio, but the 21-year-old has the freedom to drift all over the pitch. His work rate and interchangeability make him ideal for the modern game. It’s little wonder that Gallagher is thriving under the attack-minded Vieira at Palace.
Of course, the midfielder isn’t actually Crystal Palace’s player. Indeed, Conor Gallagher is only on loan at Selhurst Park, with Chelsea the 21-year-old’s parent club. Only the decision-makers at the Stamford Bridge club will truly know what their plan is for Gallagher’s future but he deserves a chance to prove himself for the Blues.
Despite having been on Chelsea’s books since 2008 and considered a senior squad member since 2019, Gallagher has still to make a first team appearance for the club. A loan move to another Premier League side was the right move at this stage of his career. Gallagher needed the experience.
He can still become a key member of Chelsea’s homegrown core, though. While the Blues have spent big on foreign talent in recent transfer windows, they still retain a group of players who have risen from the youth ranks all the way to the senior squad. This core gives Chelsea a strong stake in the future.
Mason Mount is at the vanguard of this group with the 22-year-old still improving. Reece James is another considered a key figure for club and country. Then there’s Callum Hudson-Odoi who has made the most of injuries to Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner to remind Thomas Tuchel of his quality recently.
Billy Gilmour might be currently suffering on loan at Norwich City but the Scotland International is another widely seen as part of Chelsea’s homegrown core. This is the sort of company Conor Gallagher should be keeping if his development is to continue at its rapid rate. He is good enough to take his Crystal Palace form back to his parent club.
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