England star Gallagher has had a sensational season on loan at Selhurst Park and now heads back to Stamford Bridge, but Patrick Vieira wants the midfielder back
Patrick Vieira says Crystal Palace would love to bring Conor Gallagher back to Selhurst Park next season.
Midfielder Gallagher has been a revelation on loan at Palace, bagging eight goals and five assists and earning an England call-up. The 22-year-old now returns to parent club Chelsea hoping to force his way into Blues boss Thomas Tuchel’s first team next season.
But Vieira admits that Palace are among a queue of clubs lining up to take him if Chelsea decide to let him go, with West Ham and Everton among the other interested parties. Asked after Sunday’s 1-0 over Manchester United whether he wanted to bring Gallagher back, Vieira said: “Yes I think the fans love him. I love him. The players in the dressing room respect and love him.
“I think it was a really good season for Conor. What made us proud is that he came to this football club for a year and he is leaving this football club as a really different player. He’s an international player now. We played our part. And he played his part as well. Now we wish him good luck and we wait and see what will happen. But we may have a player in the squad already who can replace him.”
Gallagher recently spoke of his love for Palace and how Vieira has allowed him to realise his full potential. The Chelsea star said: “I think he was a better player than me! But he’s made me feel really welcome. He’s really helped me and showed a lot of trust in me.
“He gave me a lot of confidence and I’ve played most of the games. It’s been great for my development and allowed me to show what I can do. It’s gone well. Better than I imagine to be honest. I was really excited to come to Palace. It’s a family club and the fans are loud. I didn’t realise how loud until I experienced it. It’s been unreal.”
Chelsea boss Tuchel has repeatedly insisted he wants to run the rule over Gallagher in pre-season and will give him a chance to prove himself. Blues midfielders N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic both suffered injury-hit campaigns at Stamford Bridge and are not getting any younger.
And Tuchel will give Gallagher a chance to earn his place in the Chelsea squad before deciding the player’s future. Gallagher was once again a standout performer for Palace against United on Sunday, managing more touches (63) than any other player, having 18 duels and winning five fouls.
Earlier this month his form was rewarded when Eagles fans voted him their player of the season. He has also been nominated for the PFA Player of the Season award.