Beautifully coiffed Conor Gallagher, Chelsea Academy Player of the Year last season, was a standout during early parts of training camp this summer, and he’s only gone from strength to strength after joining Charlton Athletic on loan at the start of this month.
The 19-year-old midfielder has taken to life in senior professional football like fish to water, starting four of five games, scoring three goals, adding an assist, and already becoming indispensable for the Championship newcomers — an “instant hit”, reads one headline.
But as impressive as his contributions on the scoreboard may be, it’s his willingness to work and learn that sets him apart from not only his peers but others of similar natural talents and technical skills. Charlton boss Lee Bowyer, once a midfielder of some repute as well (though not all positive), has been effusive in his praise.
“He’s just taken on the information we’re telling him – that’s all he is doing. He is not complicating the game in any way. He can obviously play – he comes from Chelsea and has got a good development there. But to step in and do as well as he has done….adrenaline is going to get him through the early parts.
“I was texting his agent after the game and said the most important thing is that he wants to learn and take things on board. If he keeps doing that then he’ll keep improving – it’s not difficult in terms of what needs to be done.”
Football is an easy game, you see: see the ball, be the ball. Gallagher, most often listed as a defensive midfielder, has been growing into a dynamic box-to-box force.
As Bowyer says, there’s little doubt about any Chelsea Academy graduate’s skills and technique, but Gallagher’s work rate on and off the ball stands out. Able and willing to contribute at both ends of the pitch, the teenager is running literal rings around his opponents at the moment.
“Saturday (1-0 win over Brentford) was exactly the same as at Barnsley (2-2 draw). You have to do the other side of the game — out of possession — but these people you are playing against are not happy to track you back.
“So if you are doing the defensive side and then are brave enough and willing enough to run forward then you are going to get chances. He did it again on Saturday. I said it to him: ‘This Brentford side, they won’t track you’. I said to him: ‘These two are lovely footballers but they are not going to track you’. It is difficult to find people who want to do both sides. Our players do both sides.”
Charlton are unbeaten and sit third after five games in the Championship, and Gallagher has been a big part that so far. Odds are, both he and the team will hit a few bumps along the way, but so far, so excellent.
“He is going to make mistakes — he is only a young lad, 19. But the most encouraging thing for me is the way he listens and puts into practise what you are asking him to do.”
-Lee Bowyer; source: South London Press
Gallagher is another one of those players who’s been with Chelsea since an early age (before 8) and is now knocking on the door of top flight football. As Chelsea captain César Azpilicueta commented, keep it up, Conor!
Can't imagine there have been any more impressive 19-year-olds in the Championship this season than Conor Gallagher. Lee Bowyer provides insight into why the #cfc midfielder is sparkling on loan at #cafc. https://t.co/gq7CatLzNb pic.twitter.com/H46ps8fHS2— Richard Cawley (@RichCawleySLP) August 27, 2019