I decided to stay at Chelsea after bumping into Thomas Tuchel in a pub in April… but I haven’t told Patrick Vieira that! CONOR GALLAGHER insists he’s ready to step up into the Blues first-team after impressing on loan at Crystal Palace
- Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher wants to stay and fight for his place in the midfield
- He informed manager Thomas Tuchel of his decision at a pub in Cobham
- He has not yet informed Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira of his decision
- The midfielder will fight for a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for Qatar 2022
Conor Gallagher is used to awkward confrontations with Thomas Tuchel.
Earlier this year, the Chelsea starlet — making a fine impression on loan at Crystal Palace at the time — bumped into his parent club’s boss as he was sitting in a Cobham pub.
So when it came to having ‘the chat’ about where his future lay at the end of the season, he didn’t think twice about picking up his phone and giving it to the German straight.
Conor Gallagher has told Thomas Tuchel that he wants to stay at Chelsea and fight for a place
‘I was trying to hide!’ he said of the impromptu April meeting. ‘It was funny because I saw him through the window and whispered to my girlfriend, mum and dad, “God, it’s Thomas Tuchel”. He sat on the table right next to us so he couldn’t miss me.’
This time, however, he had no qualms about facing up to his head coach. ‘I’ve got older brothers who say if you’ve got something you want to say, then do it,’ Gallagher explained. ‘Managers aren’t scary — they want to talk to their players and know what your thoughts are.’
The midfielder’s thoughts were clear. The boyhood Chelsea fan, 22, wanted to go nowhere else than Stamford Bridge. Despite a World Cup place to fight for, for which he might have been better served returning to Palace and guaranteed first-team football, his mind was made up.
‘I told him what I thought and he said what he thought,’ Gallagher added. ‘I said I think I’m ready to play for Chelsea.’
Former PSG manager Tuchel met with the young English midfielder at a pub in Cobham
The news will come as a blow to Palace fans. It may also not go down well with manager Patrick Vieira. ‘Patrick’s not been sure of my plans for next season,’ he admitted. ‘He might find out through this!’
Gallagher has nothing but praise for the Frenchman. ‘I can’t speak highly enough of Patrick,’ he said. ‘He was perfect for me last season.’
He was speaking from the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, where Chelsea are staying during the Los Angeles leg of their US tour. The next stop is Las Vegas, a fitting venue for a young man who has essentially had a flutter on himself by choosing to remain at Stamford Bridge.
‘I feel ready for a step up in my career,’ Gallagher said. ‘If there is a chance to be a part of the team at Chelsea then I can’t turn it down. I’ve got to have belief in myself that I can show the fans and the boss what I can do.’
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira (right) will likely be disappointed by the decision
And show Gareth Southgate?
‘I know I need to work hard and start the season well to get in the squad, just like every other English player,’ Gallagher said. It’s down to us. I’m sure Gareth will pick the right squad.’
His mission may be aided by the arrival of Raheem Sterling, who joined his new teammates in the shadows of the Hollywood hills this week. ‘He’s a massive signing,’ Gallagher said. ‘He’s a top player. Off the pitch he is very professional and he helps the younger players.
‘On the pitch is where it’s most important and that’s where he will do his thing.’ You get the impression Sterling will not be the only one.