Thomas Tuchel says he believes Conor Gallagher has everything to become a very important player for Chelsea in the coming years but concedes he will have to fight to get into the starting XI this term. The former Crystal Palace loanee managed a late appearance from the bench against Everton amid transfer interest from the likes of West Ham.
Tuchel and Gallagher are understood to have had a meeting at the end of the last season with the German coach said to have confirmed that the 22-year-old midfielder will not be a bit-player . That does not diminish Gallagher’s task to overcome the likes of Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, though the latter is out of the weekend’s clash against Spurs.
The Blues boss was full of praise for Gallagher but caveated his commits with talk of Chelsea’s formation, and the suggestion the former Charlton, Swansea and West Brom loanee is lacking freshness. The 48-year-old said:
“Conor fights in central midfield. To be honest, it is a very tough fight for him because, at the moment, it seems we only have two places in central midfield. Given the amount of players we have for central midfield, it isn’t ideal, I agree. But we have to do what’s best for the squad, not just for each individual player, so these thoughts are not 100% about the formation and use everyone ideally are not 100% finished yet. But at the moment, he is absolutely fine. I am a huge fan of Conor. He is a fantastic guy, and this is what we already knew, in the first weeks of training, he has shown how much of a step he has made through having so much playing time through his personality on the pitch.
“It is a very, very normal situation and development at the moment that after some fantastic training sessions, in the beginning, there is a little dip in his form and freshness which he suffers. On top of that, there’s a huge competition with N’Golo, Jorgi and Kova, who are used to playing with each other. This is also life in a big club like Chelsea, so everything is in its right place. We are happy with him. He keeps on fighting, and this is what he does. I think he has everything to become very important in the next years at Chelsea.”
Does that mean he is not for sale, however? Tuchel was philosophical in his answer.
“In general, nobody is for sale,” he said, “Nobody is for sale, and everybody is for sale. It depends on what the player wants, how bad the player wants it, what we think about who is ready to pay a certain amount of money and then maybe everybody is for sale.”
Tuchel noted Callum Hudson-Odoi’s situation is similar to that of Gallagher. After a summer spent getting back to full fitness and enhancing his physicality, the 21-year-old winger travelled to Goodison Park but did not make the matchday squad to face the Toffees.
football.london understands Borussia Dortmund have rekindled their interest from last summer, while Southampton, Leicester City and a number of European clubs are also in the running if a loan deal can be struck. Tuchel wants to see Hudson- Odoi challenge for his place and could not help but mention his ‘huge potential.’ Tuchel said:
Callum is the same. He had a long- term injury and long-term problems to overcome. That’s where he suffered from. I think he still has a way to go to live up to his potential. His potential is huge. His potential is huge. I think having Raheem in can give him an extra boost to step up and see what’s needed in these kinds of positions to reach the levels he can honestly reach. But at the moment, he is our player, and he needs to fight, fight, fight. I have nothing more to say.”