Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira explains how Eagles won race for Leeds United transfer target Conor Gallagher

Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira has explained how Leeds United transfer target Conor Gallagher was persuaded to pick the Eagles instead in the summer.

Saturday, 20th November 2021, 10:27 am
Updated Saturday, 20th November 2021, 10:28 am

The 21-year-old Chelsea midfielder is enjoying a fine loan spell at Selhurst Park, scoring four goals and setting up two others in 10 Premier League appearances.

He has shone suffiiciently under Vieira that Gareth Southgate included him in his latest England squad, sending him on at half-time to replace Whites midfielder Kalvin Phillips in San Marino.

Gallagher's impact has not only delighted everyone at Palace, but Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel too.

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The German insists there have been no thoughts about recalling the midfielder and says it's too soon to start talking to the media about Gallagher's 2022/23 season before private discussions take place with the player himself.

"Actually I haven’t thought about it," he said.

"I think it is important for him to be happy where he is and not change things. It is important to be calm, I feel him happy there and that he is having this impact at Crystal Palace.

“It is too early to talk about [next season] in public before we talk with Conor himself and what his goals are. This will happen in the summer as we all agreed to the decision that we wanted to send him to Palace. He saw a possibility for him. I am not surprised the national coach loves him because I loved him from day one. Humble, nice, smile on his face and all the time ready to give everything, want to learn and improve.

SUMMER TARGET - Chelsea's Conor Gallagher was a player Leeds United were keen on, but he chose a loan move to Crystal Palace. The 21-year-old replaced Leeds' Kalvin Phillips on his England debut last week. Pic: Getty

“As a teammate I would have loved to play with him. It is a pleasure to know him; I am super happy that it has worked out so well. He needs to keep his feet on the ground.”

Gallagher has credited Vieira for the early-season form he has produced at Palace, form that in turn led to the call from Southgate.

“Working under Patrick is amazing,” he said.

“He was one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. To learn from him and work under him is brilliant. He helps me a lot tactically and most importantly is how he knows my strengths and tells me what to do in terms of that. So I am allowed to do what I do best which is part of the reason why I’ve had a good start to the season.”

Working with Vieira was one of the key attractions for the former West Brom loanee when mulling over his 2021/22 season in the summer. He and Chelsea had a number of options available to them.

Although the Blues were determined not to include an option to buy in any loan deal, Leeds were reportedly joined in the race for his services by Newcastle United before the first-team opportunities on offer at Palace and the chance to stay in London helped sway Gallagher in Palace's direction.

And Vieira says Palace director of football Dougie Freedman deserves recognition for his role.

"We talked about the football club, about what we are trying to build and the role that he can play in our football club," said the Eagles boss.

"It’s about him knowing what he really wanted at that moment because there was a lot of clubs around. Dougie did a fantastic job as well to convince him that this was the right place for him. It’s good for us, and I think he realises that he made the right decision, but the challenge now is how far can we go with him playing that way.

“There are big things ahead of him, and he needs to keep working hard, working well, to challenge himself and to help the club win football matches.”

Having failed to land the Chelsea prospect, Leeds turned their attention to Huddersfield's Lewis O'Brien, making bids for the Championship midfielder without being able to reach an agreement over his valuation with the Terriers.

Marcelo Bielsa's options in the middle of the park have since been boosted by the return to fitness of Adam Forshaw, who shone in his first Premier League start of the season against Leicester City before the international break.