Conor Gallagher is ready to leave Chelsea after being deemed surplus to requirements, with Tottenham and West Ham leading the fight for his signature.
The 23-year-old, who scored in a 4-3 friendly win over Brighton in Philadelphia on Saturday and also in the 5-0 thrashing of Wrexham last week, is being offered to clubs.
West Ham are ready to push ahead of Spurs after banking £105million when selling Declan Rice to Arsenal. The Hammers want two midfielders to replace their former captain and have Joao Palhinha, Denis Zakaria and James Ward-Prowse on their shortlist.
David Moyes tried to sign Gallagher last summer but former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel blocked his exit. Spurs need homegrown players and a potential replacement for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who has asked the club to let him join Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea have a shortage of senior midfielders but would still let Gallagher go. He has been at Stamford Bridge since the age of six, and has always publicly said that he wants to stay. However, he increasingly accepts his need to leave after not being offered a new contract and with only two years left on his deal.
Chelsea are working to sign midfielders after Mauricio Pochettino called for new signings to come in “as soon as possible” so he can coach them during the tour of the United States.
Moises Caicedo is the primary target and negotiations are ongoing, but there has yet to be a breakthrough. Roberto De Zerbi revealed Chelsea have not met Brighton’s “conditions”, believed to be a £100m asking price.
Exit looming: Conor Gallagher will leave Chelsea as Tottenham and West Ham chase signing
Exit looming: Conor Gallagher will leave Chelsea as Tottenham and West Ham chase signing / Chelsea FC via Getty Images
The Brighton manager added that Chelsea should offer defender Levi Colwill to unlock the impasse. Pochettino responded by saying that Colwill will not leave as he could become “one of the greatest centre-backs in England”.
Chelsea have also sounded out alternatives including a more attacking option in Mohammed Kudus, who wants to leave Ajax. Southampton’s Romeo Lavia and Celta Vigo’s Gabri Veiga remain further options for Chelsea, who are open to signing two midfielders this summer.
Gallagher rejected a move to Everton in January but was open to move to Newcastle, who had a loan offer rejected.
Chelsea didn’t want to strengthen a rival for European qualification but Newcastle have since cooled their interest after spending big on Italy international Sandro Tonali.
Pochettino continues to play Gallagher, whom he admires, during a positive pre-season campaign.
Gallagher played the second 45 minutes against both Wrexham and Brighton. He has, however, played fewer minutes in pre-season than Chelsea’s youthful option Andrey Santos, while Carney Chukwuemeka and Cesare Casadei have played the same amount of time.
Pochettino is asking his younger players to fight to impress and be part of his first-team squad for next season but is offering no guarantees.
Incoming: Chelsea are close to signing French forward Elye Wahi from Montpellier
Incoming: Chelsea are close to signing French forward Elye Wahi from Montpellier / AFP via Getty Images
The new manager is a fan of Gallagher but also accepts Chelsea’s decision as his squad is set to be in flux throughout the transfer window.
“The sporting directors [Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart] and the board are working so hard to bring the right people and right players and profile to the squad,” Pochettino said. “I’m so happy in the way they are working.”
Chelsea remain in talks to sign young Montpellier forward Elye Wahi but he is expected to immediately join partner club Strasbourg on a season-long loan. The Blues will also send Brazilian winger Angelo Gabriel, a £14m signing from Santos, on loan to the newly-purchased French club after the conclusion of Chelsea’s pre-season tour of the United States.