Thomas Tuchel has heaped praise on Conor Gallagher for going out on loan to Crystal Palace and making a “huge step in his development”, as the Chelsea boss backs him to make a significant impression on the first-team next season.
The 22-year-old Epsom-born midfielder has enjoyed four productive loan spells away from Stamford Bridge, the latest of which saw him establish himself as an England international as he scooped Crystal Palace’s Player of the Year award for the 2021/22 season.
Such was his form in south London, a continuation of a productive Premier League spell at West Brom the season prior, that Gareth Southgate handed him his first Three Lions cap in a 10-0 win over San Marino in November. He has since gone on to earn three more caps this year.
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Despite his efforts at Selhurst Park there remains a few question marks over his future at Chelsea, owing largely to the traffic jam of midfield talent standing in his way, as well as the club’s post-2003 policy of spending big in the market, but Tuchel has been quick to quash such fears.
The academy graduate recently started in the club’s first pre-season match of the summer, a 2-1 win over Club America at the Allegiant Stadium in Nevada, and in light of his showing across the pond, Tuchel outlined his intentions for the midfielder next season.
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“It was a very good start and a good match for him,” Tuchel said after the game. “Now it’s important he gets used to our principles of the game, to understand when to move and when not to move, and his work rate is outstanding.
“He can be a big asset for us. Conor trains at a really high level. You can clearly see it was the right decision to let him go on loan. He made a huge step in his development at Palace and became an England player.”
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Gallagher will certainly be hopeful of cementing a regular starting berth for Chelsea as the winter World Cup fast approaches, and he recently revealed that he’s relishing the challenge to fight for his place at Stamford Bridge.
He told BBC sport: “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.”