In Part 20 of this series, I broke down Danny Drinkwater’s career at Chelsea and discussed what his future in football looks like. For those who haven’t read the introductory piece to this series, a different player will be the subject of a new article every day. I began with goalkeepers and am currently in the process of working my way up the pitch, with each position group being sorted in order by the way in which they appear on the club’s website.
As I move on with the loan army series, I continue the deep dive into the midfield loanees with Conor Gallagher. Gallagher burst onto the scene last season as one of the Blues’ most promising academy graduates. As he prepares to return to Thomas Tuchel’s team, Chelsea has some decisions to make on the player ahead of next season.
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What does Conor Gallagher’s Chelsea career look like?
Gallagher grew up in Epsom, where he began his footballing journey at a young age. He played for Epsom Eagles for a bit, following in the football footsteps of his siblings. However, Conor was different. The Gallagher’s grew up just 10 minutes away from Cobham, so when it came time for Conor to transition into a larger academy, the choice was a simple one. He joined the club at eight years old, although he began training with the Blues as a six-year-old.
Like many before—and with—him, Gallagher’s experience with the youth team included a lot of success. He secured his part in history when he scored a title-deciding goal against Reading with the U18 side. Gallagher won Chelsea’s Academy Player of the Year award during the 2018/19 season. His fate was sealed from then on. This earned him a new contract with the club before he was sent out on his inaugural loan during the 2019/20 campaign.
Gallagher arrived at Charlton Athletic and immediately set the world ablaze. He was given English Football League’s Young Player of the Month award during August of 2019. The midfielder netted three goals during his first six games with the Addicks. Gallagher went on to feature 26 times for Charlton Athletic, finishing his tenure with six goals and four assists. He was recalled by the Blues in January as the Addicks were in the midst of a relegation battle.
Swansea City, who was on the opposite end of the Championship spectrum, agreed to take on Gallagher for the remainder of the year. While not as prolific in front of goal, Gallagher did rack up seven assists during his 21 total outings. The Swans made the Championship playoff, but ultimately failed to secure promotion. Gallagher, however, played well enough across the whole campaign to move into the world’s fiercest competition. He signed a new five-year contract with the Blues, as well.
The 21-year-old found himself making a third loan move in two years, this time to newly promoted West Bromwich Albion. Gallagher’s goal output has taken a hit this season, that doesn’t mean he’s been any worse though. The Baggies lack Premier League talent, in addition to the fact they’ve had two different managers this season. They’re undoubtedly going to go down at this point, but Gallagher has been a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy team.
This begs the question: what does Chelsea do with Gallagher this summer?
Verdict: Keep or loan
It goes without saying that Gallagher is one for the future. I—like many Chelsea fans—believe the midfielder is simply too talented to go out on loan again, much like Mason Mount before him. Gallagher is a surefire future star. Although he may not have dropped jaws too often this season, the environment he’s in has been a sinking ship from the beginning. Gallagher’s got an unmatched work ethic and he’s mature beyond his years. If it weren’t for Mount, this youngster would be praised as the future star of Chelsea Football Club. If Tuchel has room for Gallagher in the senior squad for the 2021/22 season, this decision is an easy one.
Remember to check back with The Pride of London each and every day as I dive into the largely uncharted world of Chelsea’s famous loan army. Part 22’s subject is midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.