Thomas Tuchel has said he wants Conor Gallagher in his Chelsea squad next season and apologised to the midfielder during an impromptu restaurant meeting for his Crystal Palace loan making him ineligible to face his parent club in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final.
Gallagher has been a revelation for Palace but will be forced to watch from the sidelines at Wembley. Palace made a request for the 22-year-old to be allowed to play but the rules of the loan will prevent him from lining up against last season’s Cup finalists.
Tuchel said: “I believe Conor can be a part of our squad and can play a role with us. But I am not the only one to decide. We need to speak after the season with everybody, speak after the season about what Conor wants, we need to see what the situation is and what role we have for him that he can fight for.
“There needs to be something to fight, a role and perspective of where you are, where you can be, what you need to achieve. So we have to be very clear with him and he needs to be clear with us. Then we will sort it out. His development is extraordinary and outstanding.
“He is one of the key players at Crystal Palace and made a huge step in his development up front. He was a pleasure to coach in pre-season – he has so much positive energy, energy in general, and such work rate to give that he can have a big influence.”
Gallagher has scored eight goals this season and provided five assists, with the attacking midfielder helping Palace climb into the top half of the Premier League and reach the semi-final. The Chelsea academy graduate’s form resulted in his England debut in November and he made his first international start in last month’s friendly win against Switzerland.
Tuchel bumped into Gallagher recently and the Chelsea manager understood the midfielder’s frustration at being denied the opportunity to make an impression at Wembley.
“I had the chance to speak to Conor, and I could also see his frustration,” Tuchel said. “We met some weeks ago; after the international break by coincidence we ran into each other in a restaurant, and we had a chat. The subject came up, and I apologised because I know how competitive he is and I like him a lot.
“I know his character very well … This is the way it is. We play to win the game, and the rules were clear when we made the loan. I can totally understand Patrick Vieira and the disappointment of Conor but these are the rules when we did the loan, and we don’t want to suffer from our rules.”
Chelsea will have Romelu Lukaku available with the striker returning to training after missing the games at Southampton and Real Madrid.