With six goals in 15 appearances, the highest-scoring Chelsea player in the Premier League so far this season is… a Crystal Palace midfielder? Conor Gallagher has set the Premier League alight in the blue and red stripes of Crystal Palace where he’s spending the season on loan from Chelsea.
Gallagher has scored six goals and provided three assists so far this season, making him Palace’s top scorer and the joint-ninth highest in the league. What’s even more impressive is that he’s done all that while playing mainly as a central midfielder in 16 games so far.
Conor Gallagher’s performances for Crystal Palace have earned him the description of a tireless box-to-box midfielder, which is true. But the most consistent thing about Gallagher’s career is change, box this kid in at your own peril.
Conor Gallagher’s Unique Qualities
Last season on loan at West Bromwich Albion, Gallagher was a deep-lying playmaker who featured regularly but only returned two goals and two assists. His energy enabled him to screen the defence in a way that N’Golo Kanté would and spot holes in the opposition midfield to drive through like Mateo Kovačić.
The 2019/20 tells a different story of Conor Gallagher’s attributes, he was an adventurous attacking midfielder on loan at Charlton Athletic and Swansea City either side of the January 2020 transfer window. And if you need further proof of his incredible versatility, Gallagher has also featured as a right midfielder in a game for Crystal Palace this season; a 2-0 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers in which he scored.
Gallagher has many qualities but the biggest one is his ability and willingness to do whatever is required of him to help the team. He’s a luxury midfielder without the luxury, just strong will and determination to help his team with a smile on his face.
How many midfielders are proven in the defensive, central and attacking midfield at such a high level? How many of those limited options are 21-year-olds? Most likely only Conor Gallagher. This kid is one of one, unique talents like this don’t come around so often which means Chelsea cannot afford to screw this one up.
How Would He Fit In at Chelsea?
Conor Gallagher has been vocal about his desire to return to Chelsea and make his mark in the first team but when would that be? His superb performances and Chelsea’s injury troubles in midfield have fuelled talks of a potential recall which would end his stellar loan spell at Selhurst Park prematurely.
It’s unclear if Chelsea does have a recall clause in Gallagher’s loan contract and this is all speculation but here’s how Gallagher would slot in if he does get recalled: Thomas Tuchel would be more than grateful for an extra pair of legs in central midfield, a position that has been ravaged by injuries at the club.
N’Golo Kanté and Mateo Kovačić are currently injured while Jorginho is reportedly playing through pain which leaves the underperforming Saúl Ñíguez and the average Ruben Loftus-Cheek as the only fit natural central midfielders at the club.
Conor Gallagher’s energy and underrated technical ability would make him an instant favourite for Thomas Tuchel. He’s taken 34 shots in the Premier League this season which is eight more than the highest Chelsea shooter, Kai Havertz with 26. In comparison with the current Chelsea central midfielders, Gallagher’s shooting stands out distinctively.
Saúl Ñíguez (1), N’Golo Kanté (5), Jorginho (9), Mateo Kovačić (12) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (13) have all shot the ball a combined 40 times in the Premier League this season. Conor Gallagher alone has shot the ball 34 times, which means he will bring a lot more urgency and directness to the shot-shy Chelsea midfield.
Nine goal contributions in 15 games while playing for a significantly weaker team suggests that Gallagher’s output as a consistent Chelsea first-team player could be scary. After impressive loan spells at Charlton Athletic, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace, 2022 may finally be the year that we see Gallagher burst onto the scene for Thomas Tuchel’s Blues.
By: Tunde Young / @tunde_young
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Robbie Jay Barratt – Getty Images