Thomas Tuchel says his decision to loan out Conor Gallagher has been vindicated, with the England international returning to be a “big asset” at Stamford Bridge next season.
Gallagher is yet to play a first-team minute for boyhood club Chelsea, having spent the past two seasons on loan in the Premier League at West Brom and Crystal Palace.
The midfielder was involved in 11 goals in the 2021-22 season with Palace, a tally only Wilfried Zaha (15) bettered for Patrick Vieira’s side in the league.
Gallagher revealed earlier in the week that Chelsea boss Tuchel had offered assurances he viewed the 2022-23 campaign as a breakthrough opportunity, having earned his chance after impressive loan spells.
The 22-year-old caught the eye in his first outing in the United States with the Blues, who defeated Mexican side Club America 2-1, and Tuchel again backed the academy graduate.
“Conor trains at a really high level, and you can clearly see it was the right decision to let him go on loan,” Tuchel said of Gallagher, who Everton are reportedly interested in.
“He made a huge step in his development at Palace and became an England player. It was a very good start and a good match for him.
“Now it’s important he gets used to our principles of the game, to understand when to move and when not to move, and his work rate is outstanding. He can be a big asset for us.”
Mason Mount secured the victory in Chelsea’s pre-season opener after a Reece James own goal had cancelled out Timo Werner’s strike, and the presence of Ben Chilwell served as another positive note for Tuchel.
Chilwell missed a large part of the 2021-22 campaign, playing just 541 Premier League minutes, after requiring knee surgery before returning on the final day of the season against Watford.
“I’m super happy that he’s back,” Tuchel added. “It’s a difference from training to playing a game and he will take time, but he will get there because he deserves it and we will support him on his way back.
“I’m happy that nobody’s injured after a very physical game and a very physical two weeks.”
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While Mount and Werner were on target, Michy Batshuayi and Kai Havertz squandered presentable opportunities but Tuchel expects players to find their feet in time.
“Timo played 45 minutes like everybody else and Timo scored,” the German continued. “That’s what counts and from there we go. There is always stuff to improve, but it’s the first match.
“Kai had a big chance, Michy had a big chance, Timo took the chance and Mason did also.
“I count on the fact that as they become more experienced, they maybe become more calm and adapt more and more.
“They’re still young players and what we want from them is that they stay confident, stay focused, and do what they need to do as strikers.”
Chelsea face Major League Soccer side Charlotte FC, Arsenal and Udinese to conclude their pre-season campaign ahead of their Premier League opener at Everton on August 6.