Football Features

Conor Gallagher’s next club? Favourites & potential line-ups if Chelsea sell

By Squawka News

Published: 9:00, 6 June 2024

Conor Gallagher’s future at Chelsea is anything but certain.

Despite wearing the captain’s armband on no fewer than 30 occasions across all competitions for his boyhood club last season, Gallagher is being linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge this summer. It’s clear Chelsea don’t necessarily want to sell him and, according to reports, they’ve slapped a £50m price tag on the midfielder — who will head to the European Championships with England this summer. And Gallagher himself is talking like a man who is staying put.

“[The appointment] is really exciting,” the 24-year-old said of the appointment of new manager Enzo Maresca. “I’ve heard and seen really good things. Myself and everyone at Chelsea are really excited to work with him. We want to get Chelsea back to where they belong so with the new manager we can progress to get where we belong.”

Nevertheless, Gallagher’s current deal has just one more year to run and it’s clear owner Todd Boehly is not in the business of allowing players to leave for free, especially given the incredible sums Chelsea have spent under his leadership.

“The reality is, in European football, a seven-year contract is really a five-year contract because you are never going to let a contract expire to the last year. You’re either going to extend the contract or see what’s best for the player and the club,” Boehly said at the Qatar Economic Forum last month.

So, who are the teams most likely to sign Gallagher at present and how would he fit into their midfield?


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Aston Villa

Odds: 7/4 with Sky Bet
Probability: 36.4%

Aston Villa are the club most heavily linked with Gallagher right now as they seek to bring more quality through the door ahead of their Champions League campaign next season.

At first glance, you might think Gallagher would be a replacement for Arsenal and Juventus-linked Douglas Luiz. However, the Brazilian has made it clear he doesn’t intend to leave Villa Park given the bond he’s formed with the club.

“I am very happy to hear the stories but I am here at Aston Villa,” Luiz said recently. “My focus is totally here. I don’t spend a lot of time looking at the stories. I see them, but I don’t focus on that and I’m not looking at it every day. My head is here at Aston Villa. It is a club that opened its doors to me when I came to England, so I have a lot of affection and a lot of love for it.

“I have been here for five years, so I have a big responsibility in our team now. I am one of our captains and that drives me a lot. I know the player I am, and I know the player I can become.”

Should Luiz indeed stay, he and Boubacar Kamara would continue on as the double-six pairing that served Unai Emery so well in 2023/24, with the former bringing class and attacking intent and the latter bringing dynamism and defensive solidity.

Gallagher has both of those qualities. However, for Villa, he would occupy a position further forward, almost as an out-and-out No.10, which is a role he’s played plenty of times for Chelsea over the past couple of seasons.

The Epsom-born midfielder has scored 16 goals across the last three Premier League campaigns and is very adept at making late runs into the box. Meanwhile, his athleticism and physicality make him an excellent option both in a high-pressing team or one that will quickly settle into a defensive shape after losing the ball.

Tottenham

Odds: 3/1 with Bet365
Probability: 25%

Next up is Tottenham who, according to reports, are looking to use Chelsea’s race to stay compliant with Premier League Profit and Sustainability Rules as a way to sign Gallagher at a lower price. Selling an important player to a London rival would surely sting, but if the Blues need to raise funds, their hands could be tied.

Were he to play under Ange Postecoglou, Gallagher would occupy a deeper role than he would at Villa, with James Maddison already the creator-in-chief in N17. But with Yves Bissouma and Pape Sarr around, he wouldn’t need to worry so much about screening the back four as those two perform that function to a very high level.

Instead, Gallagher would move into the No.8 position. He’d still be able to make runs into the box, get into goalscoring positions and create for his teammates, while he would undoubtedly be a potent pressing weapon for the team that finished third in the Premier League last season for possessions won in the attacking third (247) — a metric where Gallagher was Chelsea’s top performer last season (39). But alongside that, Gallagher would also be expected to link defence to attack, both through driving runs on the ball and being the passing link between Bissouma/Sarr and Maddison.

With Gallagher on board, Postecoglou would have one of the most dynamic and technically gifted midfields in the Premier League.

Newcastle

Odds: 16/1 with William Hill
Probability: 5.9%

The final option is certainly a long shot but with rumours swirling that Bruno Guimaraes will leave this summer — most likely for Manchester City — Newcastle United may well find themselves in desperate need of a dynamic, all-action midfielder.

Of all three potential destinations here, Newcastle certainly feels like the most difficult to justify. Gallagher hasn’t really had the opportunity to prove he’s a player who can create from deep, which is where Guimaraes excels. And the similarities between himself and his would-be midfield partners Sean Longstaff and, especially, Joelinton are striking. Eddie Howe would have to work hard in finding the right balance between the three, setting clearly defined roles to make sure Newcastle don’t become to predictable with and without the ball.

Of course, the Magpies have other options. They could, for example, take out Longstaff for someone like Lewis Miley or, eventually, Sandro Tonali when he’s allowed to return. Or perhaps Joe Willock could be deployed further forward, with Gallagher behind performing a similar function as he would behind Maddison at Spurs.

Again, this is an outside bet, but one that offers plenty of food for thought.

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