Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said he apologised to Conor Gallagher for not allowing the on-loan midfielder to play for Crystal Palace against his parent club in Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal.
The 22-year-old has been one of Premier League’s breakthrough stars this season — registering eight goals and five assists — but will be in the stands at Wembley this weekend after the Blues rejected a request from Palace to give special dispensation so he could take part.
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Eagles boss Patrick Vieira described that decision as “something frustrating for Conor’s development” and that “the only one who will lose is Conor.”
Asked if he had contacted Gallagher directly, Tuchel said at a news conference on Friday: “I had the chance to speak to Connor and I could also see his frustration. We met some weeks ago, I think after the national break, by coincidence in a restaurant and we had a chat.
“The subject came up and I apologised because I know how competitive he is. I like him a lot, I know his character very well. It was a pleasure to have him here in preseason and this is the way it is.
“We play to win the game and the rules were clear when we made the loan. I can totally understand Patrick Vieira and also the disappointment of Conor of course but these were the rules when we made the loan and we don’t want to suffer from our rules.”
Romelu Lukaku is back in training following an Achilles problem but the build-up to another big game for Chelsea has been complicated by off-field issues after director Eugene Tenenbaum was sanctioned by the U.K government in an attempt to freeze more assets of outgoing owner Roman Abramovich.
“I don’t know the implications and what it means actually for the club right now,” Tuchel said. “I was with the team and the staff yesterday and we heard it.
“Right now I think it is not a further distraction, it is just one more of the same kind. We still hope that things will calm down and be sorted out in the process with the government.”
The deadline for offers to buy Chelsea passed on Thursday and a preferred bidder is expected to be identified early next week for final approval from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
“No, [I have not heard any update] to be very honest,” Tuchel added. “It is still a process and I heard that talks are still ongoing with the government and I am still not involved, which I am glad about I have to say because we have a lot to focus on here.
“We hope that things will be sorted out as soon as possible to have clarity but I can understand that it is not that easy.”