Mauricio Pochettino praised Conor Gallagher’s “Chelsea values” after the midfielder gave another standout performance as captain in the team’s 2-0 win against Sheffield United.
The 23-year-old has played in all but one of the manager’s 17 Premier League games in charge and has skippered the side in the recurring absence of Reece James and Ben Chilwell.
A product of the club’s academy system, he was heavily linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge during the summer transfer window, particularly since any fee received for the player would be recorded as pure profit as owner Todd Boehly looks to keep the club within Financial Fair Play regulations.
The American’s Clearlake Capital consortium has spent more than £1billion on player recruitment since acquiring the club in May 2022, with a number of established squad members having been moved on to keep the club within sustainability criteria.
But Pochettino, who saw Chelsea win back-to-back home league games for the first time in more than a year on Saturday, said Gallagher’s true worth to the club lies in what he brings on and of the pitch.
“He’s important because he has Chelsea values,” he said. “He came from the academy and he has the identity of the club. Of course, he loves the club and he’s very committed as you can see on the pitch. He runs, he plays, he fights. He does everything to try to win.
“He’s a really important player. Always these type of players are what a coaching staff wants to have.
“Maybe in the past (there was talk of him being sold). That’s a decision between the club and the player, but for me I don’t need to talk too much, because it’s clear in all my decisions, he’s been in the starting XI in nearly all of the games, and one of the captains.
“This type of player (is one) the club needs to have.”
On Saturday Gallagher filled in alongside Moises Caicedo in midfield with World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez left on the bench, almost exactly a year since he helped orchestrate Argentina’s victory in the final in Qatar against France.
“If you see some (earlier) games, some players were also on the bench,” said Pochettino. “I think when you are in a very busy period, players need to understand that even though they could play, maybe they need to rest.
“Then the best combination when they’re all fit, maybe for different games we need different combinations. Maybe we need to wait, then to show that maybe I made a mistake.”