Mauricio Pochettino holds ‘heart-to-heart’ with Conor Gallagher amid sale talk

Mauricio Pochettino (R) Conor Gallagher (L) - Pochettino holds 'heart to heart' talks with Conor Gallagher amid sale speculation

Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that he has held heart-to-heart talks with Conor Gallagher over the midfielder’s uncertain Chelsea future in another clear indication that the club’s head coach wants the 23-year-old to stay.

‌Gallagher is preparing to try to help Chelsea put one step in the final of the Carabao Cup by beating Middlesbrough in the first leg of the semi-final on Tuesday night.

‌But his future remains uncertain with Chelsea unable to dismiss the possibility of him being sold this month should a big enough offer arrive.

‌Gallagher has 18 months remaining on his contract and Chelsea had been reluctant to offer him a big long-term deal in case his early-season form dipped.

‌But Gallagher’s performances have improved and his importance to Pochettino has been underlined by the fact he was made stand-in captain after injuries to Reece James and Ben Chilwell.

‌While Pochettino has been diplomatic about the situation and accepts that, ultimately, it is a decision for the club and the player, it is understood that the Argentine’s clear preference would be for Gallagher to stay at Chelsea and sign a contract extension.

‌Pochettino held talks with Chelsea co-owner Behdad Eghbali and sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart on Sunday and Monday, but insisted no firm decision had been made on Gallagher, who was the subject of interest from Tottenham Hotspur last summer.

‌“We talked about many, many subjects because it’s normal,” said Pochettino of his discussions with Eghbali, Winstanley and Stewart. “But it’s a very natural situation and, of course, we talk in a very natural way.”

Interestingly, Pochettino brought up the subject of his own talks with Gallagher and Ian Maatsen, who is set to join Borussia Dortmund on loan, by adding: “If you want to ask me if I was talking with Conor about this situation, yes. Like all the players when some rumour happens, it’s always good to have a good conversation with the player, like Ian Maatsen, or different players like this, Andrey Santos.

‌“I think it’s always important for us, the coaches, to have very clear and very direct, honest conversations with the players. It’s healthy to have these types of relationships.”

‌Selling academy graduates such as Gallagher and Maatsen is advantageous to Chelsea in terms of complying with profit and sustainability rules, but Pochettino insisted the club are not under pressure to sell before they buy this month.

‌“No, it is not like this,” said Pochettino. “It is not what they [Eghbali, Winstanley and Stewart] translate to me. It is not necessary to sell to buy some players.”

‌Pochettino gave Gallagher a rest ahead of the Middlesbrough tie, which is the biggest game of Chelsea’s season so far, restricting him to a substitutes’ appearance once the FA Cup third-round game against Preston North End had been won.

‌Gallagher is expected to return to the starting line-up on Tuesday night and Pochettino accepts that his graduation from Chelsea’s academy gives him a better understanding of what it would mean for the Blues to book a Wembley final.

‌“I think he’s doing a fantastic job, he’s working well, he’s helping the club and us, and his team-mates a lot,” said Pochettino. “We are happy with his performances. He has an advantage because he knows the club and we are so happy with him.

‌“Of course, the English players who came through the academy system, know really well what it means to play these types of games. We [the coaches] are trying to translate the same idea, not only to the players who arrived from outside.”

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