Why Chelsea can’t afford to keep or let Gallagher go

Conor Gallagher has been one of Chelsea’s most consistent players this season – a homegrown player who is regularly selected by England and has been deemed important enough by Stamford Bridge manager Mauricio Pochettino to wear the captain’s armband in recent weeks. Despite all this, Pochettino has no idea whether Gallagher will still be at the club when the transfer window closes in January.

Welcome to the world of financial loopholes, of players who count as pure profits on the balance sheet, and where the needs of a manager are secondary to the demands of those responsible for making the numbers work.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (USA)

If Gallagher’s future at Chelsea was decided solely on performance, there wouldn’t even be any talk of the 23-year-old being sacked next month. The fact that his contract expires at the end of the 2024/25 season is obviously an issue that needs to be addressed at some point in the next 12 months.

But with so many of Chelsea’s high-dollar signings struggling to make their mark at the club, the risk of letting Gallagher leave in January purely for financial reasons – at the expense of sound football logic – would only be detrimental to Pochettino’s hopes of leading a successful team to build Stamford Bridge. But with the transfer window set to open in less than two weeks, the financial benefits of parting ways with Gallagher are precisely why the midfielder’s future is out of Pochettino’s hands.

“It is a decision between the player and the club to be or not to be,” Pochettino told reporters this week when asked about Gallagher’s future at Chelsea. “He starts almost every game and is one of the captains. For me he is the type of player the club needs.”

“He is important because of his Chelsea values. He came from the academy, he loves the club and he is very committed. You can see that on the pitch – he runs, he plays, he fights. He does everything he can to win. “He’s a really important player that the coaching staff would like to have on the team.”

However, sources have told ESPN that Chelsea would be open to offers for Gallagher in January, despite him being a key figure in Pochettino’s team. Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United have all been linked with a move for the player.

A senior official at a Premier League rival told ESPN that it was no secret around the league that an offer of £50 million would likely be enough to persuade Chelsea to offload Gallagher. This, in turn, would allow the club to compete with Arsenal in the pursuit of Brentford striker Ivan Toney, whose ban for breaching gambling regulations is due to end on January 17.

Chelsea have spent almost £1 billion on 25 players since a Todd Boehly-led Clearlake Capital consortium bought the club from previous owner Roman Abramovich in May 2022. But while it would make more footballing sense to offload one of the many overpriced underperforming signings than parting with Gallagher, the appeal for Chelsea accountants of swapping Pochettino’s vice-captain is that each is for the player The transfer fee received would be assessed as a 100% increase in the financial figures.

Since Gallagher cost Chelsea nothing as an academy player and therefore costs nothing on the balance sheet, a transfer fee of £50 million would be pure profit. On the other hand, if Chelsea were to release Mykhailo Mudryk, an £88m signing from Shakhtar Donetsk last January, they would have to take into account the remaining value of his eight-and-a-half-year contract and any amounts still owed to the Ukrainian club.

There are no such complications with Gallagher – whatever Chelsea get for the player would offset a large part of their transfer deficit on this year’s balance sheet and help them comply with the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules, which oversee a club’s financial dealings. During the summer transfer window, Chelsea raised £110m in transfer fees by parting ways with Mason Mount (£55m, to Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£15m, AC Milan), Ethan Ampadu (£7m, Leeds United ) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5m, Nottingham Forest) and Lewis Hall, whose season-long loan to Newcastle includes a £28m clause obliging them to sign him permanently. Like Gallagher, all of these players were trained through Chelsea’s academy, so their transfer fees are pure profit.

In the last January window, Gallagher turned down a £40million transfer to Everton to fight for his place at Chelsea. But under its new owners, Chelsea have introduced a strict policy of releasing players before they enter the final year of their contracts. The reason for Mount’s move to Old Trafford in the summer was his refusal to sign a new contract at Stamford Bridge. With 18 months left on his Chelsea contract, Gallagher is entering dangerous territory for clubs. Mount’s departure is a good example of why Pochettino feels powerless to control Gallagher’s future.

From a footballing perspective, it makes absolutely no sense for Chelsea to let Gallagher leave next month. Even from a financial perspective, his performances so far this season suggest that it would be wise to wait until the end of the season before deciding whether he stays or goes.

But Chelsea have taken a different approach to player trading under new owners, with huge spending, unusually long contracts and a willingness to treat homegrown players as little more than a financial resource. No matter how important Gallagher has become to Pochettino, his value on the pitch counts for nothing compared to what he is worth on the balance sheet.

Source link