Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel could hand Manchester United a summer transfer boost with his stance on on-loan star Conor Gallagher. The Blues head coach is expected to keep the impressive Gallagher at Stamford Bridge next season because of his fine form at Crystal Palace.
The 21-year-old midfielder has starred at Palace under Patrick Vieira this season.
He has scored seven goals and provided three assists in his 21 Premier League appearances for the Eagles.
Gallagher has often played in an advanced midfield position for Palace, but it is understood that Chelsea and Tuchel view him slightly deeper.
His energy and combative playing style could make him an ideal long-term replacement for N’Golo Kante.
Tuchel will give Gallagher the chance to impress in Chelsea’s first team next season, according to the Evening Standard.
That will put off potential suitors, including Palace, but it might give their rivals hope of beating the West Londoners to a key transfer target.
Chelsea have long been linked with West Ham star Declan Rice. The midfielder was in their academy from the age of eight to 14 and has been on their radar ever since.
Rice’s performances for West Ham and England have made him one of the most highly sought players in the Premier League. However, Chelsea might not need another midfielder if they keep Gallagher and do not sell any of their other options.
The 23-year-old has also been linked with United – and the Red Devils will hope that Gallagher returning to Chelsea will allow them a free run at Rice in the summer.
Signing Rice, who is valued by West Ham at around £100million, would solve a key issue for United.
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The Red Devils have been criticised for overlooking their midfield in recent transfer windows. They have instead added plenty of wealth to their attacking options.
Rice might choose to stay at West Ham for another year. He still has two years remaining on his contract.
But he has insisted that winning trophies is a major ambition. “I have always said it, I don’t want to have a career where I’ve not won anything,” he told Gary Neville on The Overlap.
“Growing up as a kid I’ve seen all these top players win the trophies, win the Premier League, the Champions League.
“Me as a football fan and a player I want to win the best stuff, I want to win the Premier League, I want to lift that trophy, I want to win the Champions League, I want to win the FA Cups, League Cups, even with England, I want to win it all.
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“If you haven’t got that ambition as a footballer, why are you playing? They are the best moments of your life winning those trophies.
“I have thought about it before, what would those days be like lifting that trophy? The day of it, the night out after. I definitely want to have those experiences of winning trophies and being the best I can be.”
Asked if the speculation affects him, he added: “You constantly read stuff about myself, (Jarrod) Bowen, (Manuel) Lanzini.
“If you’re performing well and there are top clubs around there are always going to be people circling. But I never actually read too much into it or believe it until something happens.
“For me it is just noise and I have got to stay focused on what I have got to do at West Ham, which is perform week in, week out and be the best player because that’s what I want to be.”