Part of the golden crop of English talent to have won the Under-17 World Cup in 2017, Conor Gallagher has developed into a player who is hungry for Premier League football.
After signing a new three-year deal at Stamford Bridge and winning Chelsea’s Academy Player of the Year, an award previously won by Reece James, Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount, gaining professional minutes in men's football was Gallagher’s next step.
The box-to-box midfielder, who has endurance in abundance, impressed last season in two separate loan spells in the Championship. Gallagher's first presentation came at Charlton Athletic, who had recently been promoted from League One via the Playoffs.
Gallagher hit the ground running, picking up September's EFL Young Player of the Month, displaying his acute goal scoring abilities and rewarding himself with six goals in his first 26 matches. He became a key component in Lee Bowyer's Charlton side, who were vying to stay in the Championship at the first time of asking.
Gallagher also pulled the strings for The Addicks in the middle of the pitch, playing an instrumental role and supplying pinpoint accurate passes to Charlton's forward line, and he provided four assists during his time at The Valley.
The machine in Charlton's midfield was torn out by Gallagher's parent club, Chelsea, who recalled the creative spark in the January window, as Premier League clubs, Norwich City and Burnley, circled in an attempt to land Gallagher for the second half of the season.
It was somewhat of a surprise when the midfielder was shipped back to the Championship, switching south London for south Wales to learn and progress under the tutelage of Steve Cooper. The Swansea head coach had previously worked with Gallagher at England youth level, when Cooper led the Under-17's to World Cup glory, beating Spain and Brazil on their way to world domination.
Charlton manager, Bowyer, said in an interview to Football London, he was devastated to lose Gallagher, saying, "If you think what he brought us in that first half of the season. He brought us energy, fight, determination, and goals. To take that out, it’s been difficult to replace with the budget we have to work with. We were lucky to get him. A jewel like that, you have to be very, very lucky, and we’re not that lucky unfortunately.”
Swansea was seen as the preferable choice for Gallagher. The Swans were fighting for a place in the playoffs and Chelsea thought their prize asset would learn more hunting for a potential place for promotion, rather than at the dinner table, hungry for scraps in Championship survival.
Gallagher's Swansea snuck into the playoff places in the last day of the season, following a 4-1 thrashing of Reading, which saw The Swans leapfrog Nottingham Forest into sixth place.
Although they would fall short against Brentford in the semi-finals, Gallagher yet again impressed, this time playing a more advanced role, sitting just behind the striker and gaining seven assists for Steve Cooper's side in twenty-one appearances.
The tenacious midfielder finished his first season away from youth football with a respectable six goals and eleven assists.
What will he bring to Palace?
Compared by some to his Chelsea manager, Gallagher has given Frank Lampard a serious headache about his plans for the 20-year-old this season. The food for thought continued following their draw against Brighton in a pre-season friendly on Saturday. Gallagher was composed and showed glimpses of Premier League quality in his short half hour cameo.
However, news emerged on Monday morning that Conor Gallagher had completed his medical ahead of a proposed loan move to Crystal Palace.
The Eagles are in full swing of completing a massive squad overhaul, following a season that caused much frustration. Palace have dived into the Championship to plunder two of the League's brightest stars in 19-year-old, former West Brom full-back, Nathan Ferguson, who has been joined by the exciting Eberechi Eze, with the 22-year-old committing his long term future to the club by signing a five year deal.
Gallagher is set to join the revolution; he will bring a vast wealth of versatility to a Palace side that highlighted their squad depth issues during the latter stages of last season. He featured mainly in a 'Number 10' position for Swansea, playing a leading role and dictating The Swans’ attacking prowess.
Whereas at Charlton, Gallagher brawled in the middle of the pitch, playing a centre defensive midfield role, sitting in front of the back four and using his mature football brain to turn defence into attack.
His commanding performances in the Championship have readied Gallagher for a run in the Premier League. Chelsea will hope that under the guidance of the experienced, level headed, Roy Hodgson, the 20-year-old will return to west London a more all-rounded player, just as Palace turn Ruben Loftus-Cheek into the player he is today, giving him the confidence and a platform to showcase his talents in the top-flight.
His prominent goal scoring threat and exquisite eye for a pass will be a formidable weapon in Hodgson's artillery.
Palace's midfield lacked creativity and failed to provide goal contributions last season. Gallagher will supply significant competition for Cheikhou Kouyaté, James McCarthy and Luka Milivojevic, whilst stalwart, James McArthur, will help take Gallagher under his wing with the loanee looking to be excellent back up to the 32-year-old McArthur.
The deal is expected to be a season-long loan with no option to buy, as Gallagher is set to sign a new long-term contract with the Blues before departing for Crystal Palace.