Injuries have begun to take their toll on Chelsea’s season as the growing list of unavailable players has now directly impacted the Blues’ form. Thomas Tuchel’s squad is seemingly letting in goals for fun and although it’s only lost one of its last five, it hasn’t kept a clean sheet since mid-November. One of the areas that’s been hit hardest by injuries is the midfield. Chelsea has been forced to play odd pairings like Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Saul in the pivot due to N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho being unavailable at the same time. Therefore, it’s only logical to begin discussing reinforcements in the winter transfer window.
While it’d certainly be nice to see Tuchel snap his fingers and add a world class rotational midfielder, that’s not exactly logical. The Blues are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to January transactions regarding the middle of the park. On one hand, Chelsea needs depth to cover for the plethora of injuries the team has at this moment in time. On the other hand, one eye has to be on the club’s future in that area of the pitch. One thing is certain though, the Blues need to make sure they remind Conor Gallagher how important he is to the future of the club. The on-loan midfielder is exactly what Chelsea has been missing for the last few seasons.
Conor Gallagher is the creative midfielder that Chelsea has been missing
The Blues have had their fair share of troubles in all departments over the last few seasons. A lot has been done to fix these problems, from big money transfers to formational shifts. However, one void that has yet to be filled is the one Cesc Fabregas left when he departed for Monaco in January 2019. Chelsea hasn’t had a creative figure in the middle of the park similar to the Spaniard that is able to pick out runs of forwards like Timo Werner or involve talisman similar to Romelu Lukaku. Gallagher can be that individual.
The young English midfielder has thrived for Crystal Palace throughout the first half of his loan spell. He’s been involved in 40 percent of the Eagles’ goals (22) in the Premier League this season, tallying six goals and three assists. Gallagher has played in 15 of 16 matches under new manager Patrick Vieira, only missing out against his parent club due to regulations put on loanees. Furthermore, the 21-year-old has the most chances created this season at Crystal Palace. He’s one of only three midfielders in the English top flight with five-plus goals and three-plus assists (Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount being the other two). Gallagher has done all of this while showing his game has grown leaps and bounds since his stint with West Brom last year. Despite his age, he’s become an integral part to a Premier League club.
Gallagher may not be a like-for-like replacement for Fabregas, it goes without saying one would be hard pressed to find one of those anywhere in professional football. In fact, his game has actually been compared to Kante’s on numerous occasions. Gallagher is a tireless worker who is the epitome of a modern day box-to-box midfielder. His stamina is superb, his heart is unmatched and his skills are top tier. Gallagher’s best trait though is his ability to find open space effortlessly and get into it. Simply put, the Englishman makes things happen. A true goal threat and creative force in the middle of the park is exactly what the Blues have been missing recently.
A lot of emphasis has been put on those academy graduates that Chelsea has sold over the last year. Surely Gallagher knows all about this considering he’s a regular in a starting XI that features Marc Guehi. This is why Petr Cech and other key figures at the club must continue to reassure Gallagher of his place in SW6 going forward. While it’d be nice to recall Gallagher in January and put him straight into the starting XI, that’s a pipe dream considering how professionally Marina Granovskaia does business. Vieira and Crystal Palace fans will likely get to continue enjoying the midfielder’s play, but he’ll soon be bringing joy to the fans wearing blue in west London.
Where does Gallagher fit into the current midfield? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!