Since Lee Bowyer stepped into the Charlton hotseat, the 42-year-old has been forced to rely heavily on loan deals with Roland Duchatelet holding a tight grip of his purse-strings at The Valley.
The Addicks boss has only spent a fee on Macauley Bonne out of the 14 players he has signed for the south London club, and whilst we assume the former Leeds midfielder would prefer to get players on a permanent basis, the loan system has been paying dividends for Bowyer.
Back in the summer, Chelsea decided to send Conor Gallagher to The Valley, while Josh Cullen re-joined the Addicks having spent last season on loan as well.
West Brom also allowed Jonathan Leko to spend the 2019/20 campaign in south London, whereas the Baggies also let Sam Field sign for the Addicks on loan.
While Field and Cullen have been solid performers, Gallagher has arguably been the standout name. The England U21 international is Charlton’s joint-top scorer with five league goals – Leko has also impressed with two goals and two assists this term.
So, which one of the loan stars should Bowyer try and sign on a permanent basis?
“If money wasn’t an object, then Bowyer should go all out to sign Gallagher from Chelsea given his huge impact so far. The Charlton boss has already said that he sees a bit of himself in the 19-year-old midfielder, and the teen looks to have all the makings of becoming a top-class talent – however, given Frank Lampard’s impressive use of his young players, it would surely take a huge offer from Charlton to prise him away. In that case, the man who makes the Addicks tick in Josh Cullen should be prioritised.
“Head of Recruitment Steve Gallen was over the moon to bring Cullen back to The Valley in the summer, and he has once again been a key cog in the midfield as the Addicks sit 9th in the Championship – some Charlton fans on Twitter even hijacked a thread to demand his permanent arrival . If there is even a glimmer of a chance to sign him, Charlton must jump at it.”
“I think that Bowyer should be looking at signing more than one of these loanees on a permanent deal, but if he were to pick just one it should be Gallagher. I’m not sure how viable signing Gallagher would be as Lampard may fancy giving him a go at Chelsea after his impressive season out on loan so far.
“However, if the Addicks can keep the midfielder at the club he would be a real asset for years to come. He’s only 19 years old, and he could develop into a fantastic player after netting five Championship goals already this term.”
“Goal-scorers are like stardust. They are very rare to find, and even harder to keep. So for Charlton to pull off the massive coup by landing Gallagher on loan in the summer has to go down as a Lee Bowyer master-stroke. What makes the 19-year-old’s exploits this season even more impressive is that he has predominantly played in holding midfield, with eight games in that position.
“Despite not being a striker, he has bagged himself five goals and provided a further two assists in the Championship, and having someone who can pop up with vital strikes from anywhere other than the front-line is invaluable. If the Addicks do one thing, then securing the permanent signing of Gallagher has to be the biggest priority.”
“Gallagher is the obvious choice because of the goals he has contributed in a relatively short period of time, but it seems unrealistic that Bowyer would be able to persuade him into a permanent stay at the Valley.
“As a result, Cullen would be the best option. He has shown he is pivotal to Bowyer’s system by starting in all but one league match and his average of two tackles per game shows his importance to Charlton’s organised style, helping them have the eighth-best defence in the division.
“He is also useful with the ball at his feet and his 84% pass accuracy makes him a valuable player to have whether on the right of a diamond or sitting deep – the fact he is in his second loan spell at the Addicks in as many years also suggests he is highly-rated by the manager.”