Conor Gallagher wants to stay at Chelsea. Mauricio Pochettino wants Gallagher to stay. The solution, therefore, seems quite simple.
The truth is much more complicated.
Gallagher’s match-winning double at Crystal Palace on Monday night has intensified attention on the England international’s future.
Re-signing the 24-year-old seems like a no-brainer. The fans love him. His colleagues adore him. More pertinently, his manager loves him.
Privately, Pochettino has forcefully advanced the advantages of agreeing with his superiors on a new contract for Gallagher.
Conor Gallagher scored two goals to help Chelsea defeat Crystal Palace on Monday night.
There has been a lot of speculation lately about whether he would stay or leave the club, but it seems that he is the favorite among the fans.
Mauricio Pochettino does not want Gallagher to leave the club either and Mail Sport understands that Gallagher does not want to leave either.
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This will come as no surprise. A rare bright spark in what has been a lackluster campaign.
Gallagher has captained the team regularly in the absence of injured duo Reece James and Ben Chilwell.
He has been the Chelsea player who has made the most starts in the Premier League. He has been the standard-bearer at the club’s training ground in Cobham, during a period that experts say fell well short of expectations. Pochettino’s dependence on Gallagher is clear.
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What is not so definitive is how the Chelsea hierarchy views Gallagher’s future.
Pochettino has done what he can, but the club’s failure to put together a contractual package that satisfies a player of Gallagher’s caliber has created uncertainty.
Pochettino recognizes the benefits: the contagious work rhythm and tenacity. He also sees the intangibles: the exemplary attitude, his respectful and courteous character.
When Gallagher arrived in the Midlands to join West Brom on loan in September 2000, he immediately made the decision to move from London.
It was an assertive decision that impressed then-coach Slaven Bilic. Loan moves often leave footballers in limbo in terms of living conditions, but Gallagher’s decision to uproot left an indelible mark on the Hawthorns.
It was that commitment that endeared him to Crystal Palace during his impressive loan spell there during the 2021/22 season.
“It’s not a problem time,” said a prominent soccer figure who has worked closely with Gallagher.
So what is the problem? Some doubts persist on the field of play. While he enters a Chelsea team in its current state of flux, would he play regularly in a Blues team more in line with where they hope their future takes them?
“His work rate is unquestionable, his ability to press opponents and win the ball back is perhaps his most valuable asset,” said a well-informed source.
“But there have always been doubts about the technical aspect of his game.”
When deliberating whether to call up Gallagher for the first time for England ahead of Qatar 2022, Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland identified his best attribute as coming off the bench to win the ball higher up the pitch, rather than his skills in possession.
A source told Mail Sport that his work rate is “unquestionable” but there have been “doubts over the technical side of his game.”
While Gallagher’s current deal is set to expire in 2025, Chelsea are believed to be reluctant to exceed his unofficial salary cap of around £150,000 a week.
So with this in mind, it is perhaps understandable that Chelsea are believed to be reluctant to exceed their unofficial salary cap of around £150,000 a week.
In the current market, it’s fair to say Gallagher is worth more than that salary, particularly considering fellow academy graduate Reece James, who signed his latest deal under the Todd Boehly/Clearlake regime, earns £250,000-a-week.
In fact, Chelsea could, as they did with James, make an exception if they really wanted to. The fact that they haven’t done it yet says it all.
Those close to Gallagher will tell you that his next contract will be driven by the need to feel loved, not by money.
But those advising Gallagher, who currently earns around £60,000 a week, would be foolish to underestimate a midfielder who has an excellent chance of going to Euro 2024 this summer.
Gallagher is entering the final 12 months of his current contract and Chelsea privately acknowledge his value will fall dramatically between now and the summer.
Chelsea reportedly received offers of between £50 and £60 million in January. But its value may have been halved by the time the summer window opens.
Fellow Blues academy graduate Reece James currently earns around £250,000 a week.
Gallagher is entering the final 12 months of his contract and Chelsea could have fetched between £50m and £60m for him in January.
He has been linked with a move to Tottenham, but Gallagher comes from a Chelsea-mad family and such a move may not sit well with his loved ones.
There is also the issue of the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) to consider. Well-placed sources have indicated that Chelsea are flying uncomfortably close to the wind in terms of compliance with regulations.
Gallagher and striker Armando Broja, currently on loan at Fulham, have assets that will be considered a 100 per cent profit on the PSR’s balance sheet.
Chelsea have already shown that they are willing to sell theirs to ensure their financial stability, such as when Mason Mount left to join Manchester United last summer.
Tottenham have a strong interest in Gallagher and are open to negotiations this summer, although Gallagher comes from a Chelsea-mad family and a move to north London may not sit well with them. But Mail Sport understands that, if he leaves, he would prioritize staying in the south, leaving the door open for Spurs.