Conor Gallagher may be incorporated into the Chelsea first-team squad ahead of next season, according to manager Thomas Tuchel, but only after talks with the academy graduate about his position and future at Stamford Bridge take place in the summer.
On loan from Liverpool, Gallagher has developed into one of the Premier League’s most impressive players during his season-long spell at Crystal Palace — who Chelsea will meet in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.
The midfielder has scored eight goals and provided five assists for the Eagles this season, but he will be unable to compete at Wembley this weekend owing to the terms of his loan agreement.
Gallagher is dissatisfied by this development. It should come as no surprise considering the fact that a spot in the FA Cup final is on the line. However, he has undoubtedly done enough during the current campaign to draw the attention of Tuchel, who may need to replace both N’Golo Kante and Jorginho this summer due to the fact that both are in their thirties and will be out of contract at the conclusion of the current season.
“I believe Conor can be a part of our squad [next season] and can play a role with us,” Tuchel told reporters this afternoon ahead of the FA Cup semi-final. “But I am not the only one to decide. We need to speak after the season with everybody, speak after the season about what Conor wants, and we need to see what the situation is and what role we have for him that he can fight for.
“There needs to be something to fight for, a role and perspective of where you are, where you can be, what you need to achieve. So we have to be very clear with him, and he needs to be clear with us. Then we will sort it out. His development is extraordinary and outstanding. He is one of the key players at Crystal Palace and made a huge step in his development upfront. He was a pleasure to coach in pre-season – he has so much positive energy, energy in general, and such a work rate to give that he can have a big influence.”
Chelsea heads to Wembley Stadium on Sunday after being eliminated from the Champions League quarter-finals by Real Madrid despite their heroic efforts. On Tuesday, the Blues produced a tremendously impressive performance to win 3-2 at the Bernabeu, but it was not enough to secure a place in the semi-finals after losing the first leg 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. The Blues will now face either Real Madrid or Barcelona in the last four of the Champions League.
Tuchel, on the other hand, feels that the bittersweet triumph in the Spanish capital will serve as a valuable learning experience for his players, many of whom had never before played at the Real Madrid stadium before this.
“After they (Real Madrid) made it 3-1 [at the Bernabeu], the stadium was completely packed, and I’ve seen a lot of teams crumble in these kinds of situations,” Chelsea’s head coach revealed.
Consider the last round [against PSG] and over the years – when they score a goal and the stadium is on fire and unbearably loud, I’ve seen many teams crumble before their very own eyes.
“We didn’t. We started again straight away to attack and play for the fourth goal. So I’m convinced it’s a huge experience for our players. We had a lot of players who played for the first time in this stadium, and to react like this, to play a match like this, was outstanding.
“But we have to deal with the strange feeling that we are not in the last four. Otherwise, it would’ve been nothing but a huge boost for us. So there are things to digest, but that is the way it is at the highest level in sport. We will learn from it, and the players will learn from it. I think they are aware, in terms of performance, investment and discipline, it was a top-level performance.”
Tuchel added: “I think it helps that we go to Wembley and that we have a knockout game in the FA Cup and something to fight for. So straight away, the next big challenge, and we’re so close to a final and another title we fight for. I think that helps to shift the focus because we were in [last year’s] FA Cup final, and we were in the Carabao Cup final, but we lost those. So we still feel we have something to prove and fight for.”