Crystal Palace have had a slow start in the Premier League, currently 15th in the table with just six points on the board and one win over their first six outings. That could be a big concern for Patrick Vieira, who is trying to live up to last term’s success in his second season at Selhurst Park.
The Eagles enjoyed a fantastic campaign in 2021/22, with a great FA cup run seeing them make it to Wembley for the semi-finals against Chelsea earlier this year, but there has been one noticeable change at the club in the meantime.
Conor Gallagher spent the entire campaign on loan with Crystal Palace last term and made a huge impact on the team during his stay in south London, scoring eight goals and winning the club’s Player of the Year award.
Speaking in May before the season came to a close, Vieira said of the 22-year-old (via Evening Standard): “I am really pleased with the year we spent together. He’s been really good to us and we will have to wish him good luck if he goes back to Chelsea. If there’s a possibility to bring him back, we will definitely talk about it.”
Unfortunately, a deal wasn’t made for Gallagher to return to Selhurst Park for 2022/23, despite the Eagles’ recent efforts. He will now see out at least the first half of the season at Stamford Bridge trying to earn his place in Thomas Tuchel’s starting line-up, despite the fact that Vieira desperately needs him at Palace.
It was never going to be easy to replace the hard work that the Chelsea youngster put in during his time in SE25. Gallagher ranks in the top 10% of his positional peers across the top five European leagues for pressures, non-penalty goals, dribbles completed and touches over the last 12 months, along with scoring eight goals and delivering five assists.
Losing such a hugely impactful player has clearly had an effect on Palace, as they have been unable to pick up a win in the Premier League over their last three games, and Gallagher’s attacking qualities could have come in very handy in the middle of the park in those matches.
Depending on how well he gets on at Chelsea between now and January, there could be an opportunity to bring him back to south London on loan in the new year, but again it would only be a short-term solution for Vieira and leave them back at square one come the summer.
Failing to capitalise upon the 22-year-old’s existing connections with Palace to get a deal struck before last week’s deadline may well go down as a summer transfer shocker from the Eagles.