• Joe Donnohue

Conor Gallagher: A Transfer You May Have Missed

Credit: Daniel Hambury - PA Images // Getty Images

by Joe Donnohue

Transfer season can seem hard to escape at times. From João Félix to Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong to Nicolas Pépé, it can be relentless. Speculation is stirred among expectant supporters, the intrigue over who will land where enveloping one fanbase and terrifying another. The intricacies of each individual deal: fees, contract length, and the multitude of ultra-specific clauses undoubtedly inserted into each agreement; it all punctuates the transfer window discourse.

Consequently, it can be easy for lesser, low-visibility deals to escape the media’s intrigue and furore, which is reserved for the multi-million exchanges.

In this brand-new feature, we have compiled a handful of transfers – both permanent and loan – which have flown under the radar. They consist of interesting moves, shrewd additions and deals that will command your interest: the first concerns Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher.

It is quaint, given the club’s history with loaning players out en masse – often with little benefit to any party – that a Chelsea loanee completed one of the more interesting moves of the summer.

Teenage midfielder Conor Gallagher, a former under-18 captain for the Blues and UEFA Youth League finalist in back-to-back seasons, swapped West for South East London. He joined Lee Bowyer’s newly-promoted Charlton Athletic for his first taste of senior football in the English Championship – and he is thriving.

Highly regarded at Chelsea’s Cobham training base, Gallagher was noted for his tenacity and dogged determination. In a double pivot alongside Billy Gilmour, Gallagher starred as Chelsea romped to the 2018 FA Youth Cup title. With former team-mates Callum Hudson-Odoi, Jonathan Panzo and Reece James all graduating to first-team football, many wondered whether Gallagher himself would be rewarded with his chance – he had certainly earned it.

At Charlton, scoring three times in his first seven league appearances, he has cemented his intentions. Bowyer has lauded the teenager’s work-rate, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, but is nevertheless high praise given the role Bowyer played during his own career.

“All I say to him is you have to do the dirty side of the game. Keep making runs, it hurts but keep getting in the box and things will drop for you.” Lee Bowyer on Conor Gallagher

And so they have. Gallagher’s three Addicks’ goals have come from remarkably similar positions and scenarios. He knows where balls will drop when pockets of space open, almost like that of an old-fashioned ‘right place, right time’ striker. Often the most alert to newly opening space in attacking transitions, Gallagher is a good runner from deep – particularly without the ball, ghosting to the edge of the area.

His goal against Brentford is probably a juiced-up example, as the defending was markedly ramshackle. It is notable though, that Gallagher’s was arguably Charlton’s only clear-cut chance of the game. The Chelsea man seized the lapse in Brentford’s defence and took the sole chance he was allowed – the mark of a dependable forward player.

Similar scenarios developed against Stoke City and Barnsley, the other sides to concede to the Chelsea loanee. By anticipating where the ball would arrive, Gallagher made purposeful and evasive runs through the midfield, supporting the attacks from afar before darting into space and finishing coolly.

Charlton and Chelsea fans alike have praised his attitude and temperament. Despite starting on the left-hand-side of a midfield three in a 4-3-1-2 setup for Charlton, it is difficult to nail down where he is playing at times, because of his ceaseless running.

He makes it his business to seek and snuff out danger. Sporting a slick hairdo which would not look out of place in The Warriors, it is perhaps quite apt to describe him as such, alluding to the efficient tackler he is. The technical niceties one would expect from a Chelsea graduate marry up nicely with his natural steeliness. His interminable endeavour endears him to the Charlton support.

After seven league appearances, no team-mate of his has made or attempted more tackles. No team-mate has made more interceptions and only Lyle Taylor has taken more shots and scored more goals than Gallagher.

For a side that lost Joe Aribo and Patrick Bauer in the summer, the need to replace goals and obstinacy in the spine of the team was evident. Early signs have indicated that Gallagher provides that – alongside a high-octane approach to press, tackle and offer in the middle of the pitch.

Want to support independent football writing? The best way is to buy a Handbook, available in print or digital: