'He can stretch teams' - Conor Gallagher profiled amid Leeds United interest in Chelsea midfielder

Leeds United have been linked with a move for Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher this summer - but who is he and what do you need to know?

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 2:44 pm
Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips and former West Brom loanee Conor Gallagher battle for the ball at Elland Road. Pic: Getty

The Whites are said to be vying with Crystal Palace for his services in the transfer window ahead of the upcoming Premier League campaign.

Marcelo Bielsa is aiming to bolster his midfield and one player who could fill the void is Gallagher, though parent club Chelsea are set to only sign off on a season-long loan deal.

At 21, Gallagher already has a wealth of first team experience having enjoyed loan spells with Charlton Athletic, Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

United have been linked with a move for him in the past and appear to have put his name on a shortlist once again this summer.

Last September the Blues academy product penned a new five-year deal at Stamford Bridge before heading to the Hawthorns on loan.

He was an unused substitute for Chelsea in the 2019 Europa League final and won the club's academy player of the year award the season before.

Gallagher made 30 top flight appearances for West Brom last term, scoring twice and bagging two assists as the Baggies were relegated to the Championship.

Here, we get insight from Express & Star writer Luke Hatfield on what he may bring to Bielsa's squad should Leeds land a deal:

How did he fare at West Brom overall in what was a difficult season?

It certainly was a difficult season, but Gallagher was one of the few standouts, particularly over the first half of the campaign when Albion were playing under Slaven Bilic.

He certainly showed a lot of energy, a willingness to work hard throughout every game and also a goal threat - particularly with late runs into the box and from around the edge of the area.

When Bilic was axed and Sam Allardyce came in, you could tell that he didn't really suit the style of play Big Sam wanted to introduce, so it's fair to say he maybe faded slightly - but he was still an important player under Allardyce, albeit not quite as effective.

I doubt he'll have the same issue if he does head to Elland Road though.

What is his style of play? Is he an 8 or a 10? Can he play anywhere else?

He's primarily a box-to-box midfielder, encapsulating the traditional style of an 8 with an all-action, non-stop work ethic.

I'd imagine he could be played in a 10, but he maybe lacks the ability to carve a team open with a pinpoint pass or ball over the top to really flourish in that position.

He's the type of player that could probably do a job on either flank too if you asked it of him, but his true position is right in the heart of midfield getting from box to box and using his energy to help control the midfield and make those lung-busting runs forward to get on the end of goalscoring opportunities or split defenders.

What are his standout attributes?

He's got a bit of everything really, which is a great sign from such a young player.

His energy and pressing ability are his biggest attribute though, but that's not to say he's lacking in technical ability at all.

To fit a common footballing cliche, he's like a Duracell Bunny on the pitch, he won't stop running and seems to have an absurdly good engine.

He can carry the ball, but he's better playing it out to a more accomplished creative player and then getting himself into a position to get on the end of things with runs that stretch opposing defenders or cause chaos in the penalty area.

In terms of downsides, there are only a few. I probably wouldn't trust him in a defensive midfield role. He isn't afraid to shirk a challenge, but he can give away the odd foul in dangerous areas. He can sometimes go down a tad too easily as well, which is something he needs to keep to a minimum.

However, for a player of his age he's certainly capable at Premier League level and will have a bright future in the game too.

Would he suit Marcelo Bielsa's style at Leeds United? Is his work rate high?

Absolutely. I'd say he's ready-made for Leeds' famed high-energy style of play. It doesn't surprise me one bit to see him linked with a move to Elland Road and I'd tip him to be a success there too.

His work rate and general energy were unrivalled at Albion, and alongside a player like Kalvin Phillips and some of the other players at Leeds' disposal, I could see him flourishing. I imagine Bielsa will absolutely love coaching him.

Anything else you'd like to add about him that we might not know?

Not too much, although if I were Leeds I'd be trying to get some sort of option to buy included with any loan move.

I fear he could suit the club's style of play so much that you may have another Ben White/Brighton circumstance on your hands where if there's no clause included to buy, that Chelsea could hold Leeds to ransom come the end of the season, should he do as well as I'd expect him too.

I doubt he'll squeeze his way into Chelsea's midfield anytime soon, but with a straight loan move Leeds could be in a tricky position come the end of the season, should he stand out from the crowd and impress Bielsa.