Conor Gallagher’s transfer stance is clear, but Chelsea’s decision may diverge from the star player
The transfer window is wide open, the mega deals are being lined up and yet one big money target wants to stay put.
Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher is in the unusual position of being arguably the club’s best player this season – and yet his future remains uncertain. One bookmaker, Coral, have even made Tottenham a 6/5 bet to sign the England international before the end of January.
Tottenham are keen and are watching developments in what could be a transfer saga which goes right to the wire. But Gallagher, 23, is determined to stay and fight for his place – and has even made it clear he wants to sign a new contract at the club.
The bizarre situation is representative of all the goings-on at Chelsea as it has been full of ins and outs during owner Todd Boehly’s £1billion spending spree. Here is a player who is a dyed-in-the-wool Chelsea fan, he grew up supporting the club and joined them as an eight-year-old.
Gallagher says he grew up idolising John Terry and Frank Lampard and his own remarkable attitude epitomises what any manager looks for in a player. He admits nothing gives him greater satisfaction than proving people wrong which is what he has done throughout his career.
Crystal Palace took him on a season-long loan, wanted to sign him permanently and yet Gallagher wanted to stay at Chelsea and fight for his place. When Mauricio Pochettino came in last summer, there were discussions again as Tottenham and Newcastle were keen and a move was a possibility even up until transfer deadline day.
The issue for Chelsea is they need to balance the books, selling a homegrown talent is more lucrative financially and would help them fall into line with their budgets. But Gallagher refused to go in the summer – and is making it plain that he is determined to stay and fight for his place again.
The issue for Chelsea is they might be able to get a big fee – although £60m might be optimistic – and that Gallagher now only has 18 months left on his current deal. There is also a dilemma over whether he is at the level they want to get to in the long term which is to win trophies and get back into the Champions League under Pochettino.
Chelsea’s contract policy has been complicated as they have given new signings longer term deals up to eight and nine years with a lower basic wage but the players already at the club would not necessarily want to sign those deals. That leaves Chelsea with a major dilemma and yet they have one of their best players wanting to stay, they know the backlash from fans would be huge because he is homegrown and represents the club’s best traditions.
Even his manager, Pochettino, wants to keep him and made that clear by making him vice-captain last summer. His determination, battling qualities and desire on the pitch should be an example to all of his team mates. His performances this season have made him the most important player with perhaps only Raheem Sterling catching the eye in as many games.
This should be a feel good story but instead feels like it’s a dilemma which could only happen at Chelsea.