It took nearly the entire two-decade-long run of the Roman Abramovich Era for Chelsea to start properly utilizing the Academy that he had established early on and funded throughout, with a serendipitously timed FIFA transfer ban nudging us along as well.
Now there’s new ownership in place, with the desire to spend big and make a splash, and of course the short-term pressures of needing to stay at the very top of the professional game are only getting more intense as well, but it remains important that the paradigm shift of the past few years isn’t just a temporary change but is in the fact the new status quo.
Both head coach Thomas Tuchel and co-owner (and interim sporting director) Todd Boehly have said all the right things in this regard, but words are easy — and a bit harder to believe when, for example, Levi Colwill looks more likely to leave than to stay at the very moment.
It’s been a given for months but Conor Gallagher will be part of #CFC squad this season. Tuchel loves him. Wanted him last season too but was convinced by club that Gallagher would be better off playing on loan at palace for a year and coming back an even better player.— Simon Johnson (@SJohnsonSport) July 14, 2022
Still, it’s not all doom and gloom (perceived or otherwise) for the homegrown kids. In fact, for Conor Gallagher, things are indeed looking quite promising. Fresh off of his impressive loan spell at Crystal Palace last season, the 22-year-old midfielder has a golden opportunity to be the next big impact player from the Academy in the first-team — an opportunity that he’s ready to grab with both hands while still having fabulous hair.
“I feel like this is the season. I’ve been a Chelsea fan my whole life, my family have, it’s been a dream to play [for Chelsea] but I want to try and impress, and play as much football as I can and affect the game when I’m on the pitch.
“[Tuchel] said he wants me to be part of the squad and to prove myself in pre-season, so that’s the plan. I’m happy with that and just willing to work as hard as I can to prove to him that I can play for Chelsea. It’s what I wanted to hear, it was a nice phone call that we had and it gave me a clear plan of pre-season and where I’m going to be. It was great to hear.”
Nothing’s guaranteed in football of course. And if they’re good enough, they’re good enough. But the playing field is hardly ever level or fair.
Well-worn cliches aside, Gallagher is simply excited for his chance and excited to play for his boyhood club. Some things are just as they should be.
“Everyone wants to play as much as they can, but I’m willing to work as hard as I can to be on the pitch as much as possible.
“There’s world-class players in the squad and it’s obviously a tough team to get into but I feel like if that challenge is there, I think I’d be a bit silly not to take it. With Chelsea being my club as well that I’ve supported, it’s very exciting.”
-Conor Gallagher; source: BBC