As a key player for Crystal Palace, Conor Gallagher has been undoubtedly the most impressive loanee in this year’s Loan Army, and as such, it’s only right that he would be in with a chance to make next year’s Chelsea squad.
And that’s precisely what Thomas Tuchel’s thinking as well, explaining his broad plans for the 22-year-old ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal, in which Gallagher won’t be able to participate.
“I believe that Conor can be a part of our squad and can play a role with us but I’m not the only one to decide. We need to speak after the season with everybody and we need to see what Conor wants. We need to see what the situation is, what role we have for him and what he can fight for because you need something to fight for.
‘You need to have a role and a perspective about where you are, where you can be and what to achieve. We have to be very clear with him, he needs to be clear with us and we will sort it out. [...] His development is extraordinary and outstanding. [He] has made a huge step [and] he can of course be a big help and a big influence.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Chelsea FC
Gallagher following in the footsteps of the likes of Mason Mount or Reece James would certainly be a welcome development, especially as we’ve seen several highly promising Academy graduates leave the club in recent years — including Marc Guéhi and Valentino Livramento (though the latter with a buyback option) — not wanting to wait for their first-team chances that might never really come anyway.
While we’ve become better in that regard over the past few years, the harsh logistical reality of the situation remains that not every Academy talent will end up making the jump. These sorts of decisions are never easy or simple, be that for the club or the player themselves.
“They are decisions we took together and are happy about these decisions. You cannot go back and reflect at this point. When we took the decisions, it was the right thing to do, given the circumstances. For example, all the time, individual decisions. For Tino Livramento, we had a plan, and we preferred a loan. He felt his future was to go, and the situation was then better to agree to the sale.
“For Marc, his is a fantastic development. It’s very hard or maybe even is impossible now to say if we kept him he would have been better, worse, or been the same. Maybe he needed to leave. Maybe he needed the change of environment, a different club, a different or bigger role, more minutes to develop his full potential.
“It just tells you over and over again that if you trust younger players and have a role for them, they can on a very regular level match expectations and even over-perform. It’s nice to see so many Chelsea players out there in every league. We are well aware for it. It is nice to play against them and see them develop.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Given the changing ownership situation and the presumed reduction in direct cash injections to finance the club’s extravagant transfer market purchases, it’ll be even more imperative that we fully utilize the Academy and put these youngsters who just keep coming down the production line into mutually beneficial situations.