Mauricio Pochettino wants Chelsea to rethink their plans to offload Conor Gallagher and believes the midfielder can be one of four ‘instrumental’ players for him, according to reports.
The 23-year-old has been a bit-part player at Stamford Bridge this campaign, only starting 15 times in the Premier League – though he has scored three goals.
Gallagher enjoyed an outstanding season on loan at Crystal Palace last campaign and had returned to west London under the promise of more regular game time back at Chelsea.
That has not happened, and his place is under threat with the Blues said to be targeting midfield reinforcements in the summer, with players like Declan Rice and Caicedo both on their wish list.
Chelsea have been expected to cash in on Gallagher, who has plenty of admirers in England and was even the subject of a £45million offer from Everton in January.
But, despite needing to raise funds and reduce a bloated squad, The Evening Standard are reporting that Pochettino does not want to lose Gallagher and will block his exit.
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The Argentine coach has identified the midfielder as one of four players who could be ‘instrumental’ to his project, along with Mason Mount, Levi Colwill and Reece James.
Pochettino wants to build his Chelsea team around a core of young, homegrown, academy products – much as he did at Tottenham with Harry Kane, Andros Townsend and Ryan Mason in the early years of his reign.
Chelsea’s hierarchy had been viewing many of their academy graduates as ideal players to sell this summer in order to balance the books and trim the squad, but Pochettino thinks differently.
He believes Gallagher’s high-octane approach could be a good fit for his style of play, with the former PSG manager keen to press high and aggressively.
And Gallagher was open to leaving Chelsea in search of a regular starting role elsewhere but would be happy to stay and fight for his place at the club under a manager who trusts him.
However, Pochettino could have a harder time convincing Mount to stay, while Chelsea are conscious of the fact he only has one year left on his current contract.
If he refuses to sign an extension, Chelsea may be forced to cash in now rather than risk losing him for free irrespective of Pochettino’s desire to make him an important player.