Growing up, if there was one thing Chelsea were never short of, it was goalscoring midfielders. Player’s like Dennis Wise, Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack were never afraid to contribute with a goal or two. Or 211 in Frank Lampard’s case.
For the past five years or so, we haven’t been quite so lucky. Last year however, we finally got our wish in the full emergence of Ruben Loftus-Cheek to the first team. Cruelly, his season was cut short in Boston, in quite possibly the most frustrating way possible. As we eagerly await his return, Mason Mount has made an emphatic start to life in the Premier League, contributing four goals to date.
Two English goalscoring midfielders breaking into the side in just 12 months? It’s really not bad going.
However, a Championship loan at a south-east London club has potentially presented us with a third.
Conor John Gallager.
I think it’s fair to say Conor Gallagher has made a pretty good start to life in the Championship. A close friend from University likes to remind me of this every weekend. I don’t have many complaints. To them, he has simply been a revelation.
In just 12 appearances for the side this season, Gallagher has notched up an impressive four goals and one assist. In the absence of former journeyman striker Lyle Taylor, ruled out through injury last month. It has been 19 year old Gallagher who has been more than willing to chip in with his share of goals. He’s been recognised for his impressive start, collecting the EFL Young Player of the Month award for August.
He’s also collected three yellow cards in this time, Conor is not just a goalscorer. Time and time again he has demonstrated an outstanding maturity in defending from midfield, not afraid to get involved with the dirty-work. He plays from deep, helping to recover the ball. An extremely hard worker, it’s hardly surprising his idol is non other than Frank Lampard.
Indeed, it would’ve no doubt been an easy decision to loan Gallagher out to Charlton. With the impressive spells of Josh Cullen, Krystian Bielik and Jay Da Silva previously. This is a club which heavily appreciates the loan players it can get its hands on and is not afraid to utilise them as much as possible.
If Gallagher can keep this up, his heroics from the season will no doubt achieve him Cult-hero status within the club. So don’t be surprised if we see a similar scene to the one Reece James left behind at Wigan last season.
As we got so used to seeing in the past, a good loan spell at Charlton this season would’ve probably led to him being pushed out to another Championship side next year. Either that, or a mid-lower Premier League side. That was before we got Frank Lampard at the helm, however.
If Gallagher continues to perform well, there will be nothing stopping Frank from giving him a proper run-out in preseason next summer. With Chelsea players likely to be involved with England in the Euros next summer, the stage is well and truly set for Conor. If he takes this chance properly, which he no doubt will, he’ll be in the side.
There is no doubting it, this midfield will not be easy to break into. Even if Chelsea do opt to offload Barkley in the next year, we still have Loftus-Cheek to return. If Bowyer continues to perform miracles at Charlton and guides them to promotion, this would be the perfect opportunity for Gallagher to prove his worth in the league over the course of a season, playing every week.
What does a Charlton fan have to say on him?
As I said earlier, a close University friend is a diehard “Addick”, so when I decided to write this piece it seemed obvious to ask him a little more about Conor from his perspective and find out what the fans think of him.
With the departure of Joe Aribo last summer, there was undoubtedly a void left in the Charlton midfield that needed to be filled if they were to have any hope of surviving in the Championship. Now they’re doing more than just that.
With Conor’s arrival, South-East London prayers have been more than answered. Never afraid to put in a tackle, frequently leading tackle statistics and with a never say die attitude which can only have been further advanced by working under Lee Bowyer, it’s no surprise to see he’s become a fan favourite.
These are just a few of the talents who have come and left over the years at Charlton.
Bearing that in mind, Gallagher is right up there with the very best and most exciting prospects he’s ever had the privilege to watch down at The Valley, Charlton’s home ground.
Chelsea fans are, truly, very lucky.
If this doesn’t get you excited for Gallagher, I really don’t know well. Quality is important of course, but the effect on fans of a player who wears his heart on his sleeve cannot be matched. Stamford Bridge is going to warm to this guy immediately.
When fixtures align appropriately, I’ll certainly be making the journey over to South-East London to watch this guy play whenever possible and I’m looking forward to following this piece up later in the season to report back on how Conor’s performing. The future is very bright for this guy.