Why Gallagher is perfect for Chelsea battle after passing Tuchel test

He could not have foreseen the injuries and Covid cases that took the wind out of Chelsea’s title challenge. But he did recognise the potential of the midfielder, who had already impressed at West Brom last season.

Gallagher was pencilled in to compete for a first-team place this term — and had he remained at Stamford Bridge there is every reason to believe he could have followed in the footsteps of Trevoh Chalobah by forcing his way into the picture.

If not for Patrick Vieira’s persistence — calling daily throughout the summer — Gallagher would have stayed.

It was the Palace manager’s determination to secure the 22-year-old — and his promise to make him an integral member of his team — that convinced Chelsea to let him go. Tuchel still had to okay it, but this was an example of the German’s appreciation of long-term benefit over short-term gain.

Chelsea are set to thrust Conor Gallagher into a first-team role next season

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While Gallagher would have been a valuable option, particularly when N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic were injured, it was accepted that playing week in, week out would be in the best interests of everyone. Not to mention the prospect of working under one of the Premier League’s greatest-ever midfielders.

Certainly, no one is complaining now — and Gallagher is seen as ready-made to return to Chelsea and compete with their stellar midfield.

England have also benefited, with the player now a serious consideration for Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad in Qatar. That is testament to the progress he has made at Palace, with Tuchel particularly impressed with his energy levels, privately comparing them to Kante’s.

Gallagher has also passed his manager’s ultimate test for any player with ambitions of forcing their way into his plans.

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