What qualities would Conor Gallagher bring to Villa Park?

As rumours involving a potential transfer from Chelsea to Villa continue to grow for the England international, this piece takes a look at what he would bring to the club.
England v Bosnia & Herzegovina - International Friendly
England v Bosnia & Herzegovina - International Friendly / Stu Forster/GettyImages

The midfielder played in all but one of Chelsea's Premier League games last season and scored 5 goals and accumulated 7 assists in the process. In a season of struggles for Chelsea Gallagher was a key figure that helped to drive the team up the league table in the final third of the season. As a result, Gallagher is wanted by Unai Emery, who is an admirer of the player, and Villa are keen to sign him to bolster their squad ahead of their Champions League campaign. Earlier in the season, Chelsea boss (at the time) Mauricio Pochettino had this to say about Gallagher:

"I think he is a player with a great commitment to the team. He is always trying to compensate in every situation, in offensive and defensive situations. It's priceless to have a player like him."

Mauricio Pochettino

So, let's take a closer look at the attributes that make him the player he is. Firstly, let's focus on the positives that Gallagher would bring to Emery's team.

1. Work ethic

If anyone has watched Chelsea on a regular basis this season they will have noticed that Gallagher puts in a lot of yards across the pitch. Considered to be a typical box-to-box midfield player, he gets up and down the pitch very well and supports both attack and defence consistently throughout a game. It is not too often you see Gallagher walking or jogging around the pitch and this will be something that Emery admires as he demands a huge amount from his players.

2. High press

Martin Odegaard, Conor Gallagher
Arsenal FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

When Gallagher is asked to play higher up the pitch in the number 8 or even 10 role, his pressing is aggressive and forces the opposition to turn the ball over very often. This will be a quality admired by Emery as Villa press high up the pitch as it his. However, Villa would admit that other than John McGinn they don't really have a player that will continuously press so aggressively up in the opposition's defensive third. This would be a quality that would bring a huge amount to the Villa team and would allow the quick and direct attacking players like Bailey and Diaby to hit teams with their pace and skill before they are able to return to their defensive positions.

3. Long range shooting

Conor Gallagher
Aston Villa v Chelsea FC - Premier League / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Unfortunately for Villa fans, they have witnessed first hand Gallagher's ability to shoot at goal from range. During the 2-2 draw at Villa Park last season Gallagher bent the ball with his left foot into the far top corner to secure a point for his team. Thinking back to his days at Crystal Palace especially Gallagher would score a high number of his goals from outside the box.

4. Leadership

Conor Gallagher
Chelsea FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

With Chelsea captain Reece James injured for the majority of the season, the responsibility of captaincy has often fallen onto the shoulders of Gallagher. The England international has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills this season and been an example for others to follow. Chelsea have a young squad and many of the players have looked to Gallagher for guidance and support throughout the year. A good player to have in your dressing room.

Despite Gallagher possessing a number of qualities that have made him an international footballer, having looked closely at his game this season I believe there are a few areas that would need developing if he is to play under Unai Emery.

5. Passing accuracy

If Gallagher was to replace someone like Douglas Luiz, who has been heavily linked with a move away from Villa Park this summer, then he is going to have a big impact on the ball. Luiz has a fantastic range of passing, short, long and from set pieces and is instrumental in getting Villa up the pitch. Gallagher's passing accuracy last season was at 91% which was actually slightly higher than Luiz's at 90%. However, Luiz attempted and completed a lot more long passes and having watched Gallagher play a lot it is clear that switching the play with long balls isn't his strongest attribute, at the moment.

6. Technical skills in tight spaces

Conor Gallagher, Luka Modric
Chelsea FC v Real Madrid: Quarterfinal Second Leg - UEFA Champions League / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

This is something that varies for Gallagher. Some games he looks tremendous in tight areas and navigating his way out of tight spaces with the ball, and other days he looks like he has no chance. His technical ability to keep the ball under pressure is inconsistent and often loses the ball in the midfield area when he has someone pressing him and marking him tight. Again, if he is to replace Luiz who is very good at keeping the ball under pressure and dribbling out of tight areas then this is something that Emery would need to help him develop on a more consistent basis.

7. Discipline

Craig Pawson
Chelsea FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

As a result of his hard work and willingness to make challenges, Gallagher racked up a number of cards last season. With 8 yelllow cards and a red card to his name as well as the fact that he topped the Premier League charts for most fouls committed (83) it could be suggested that discipline needs to improve. Obviously players who are more committed to making tackles are likely to rack up more yellow cards but the number of fouls he gives away would be a slight concern for Emery.

It is believed that Chelsea are asking for a £50 million fee for Gallagher and with Chelsea's difficult financial situation regarding FFP and PSR they will need to sell high profile players. Gallagher has also been linked with Tottenham but Unai Emery is positive that he can persuade Gallagher to join Aston Villa due to the guarantee of Champions League football.

Villa could also look to negotiate on the fee as Chelsea are considered to be interested in taking on the services of Villa forward Jhon Duran. Should the players switch footballing homes, it is likely that Villa would have to offer Duran and offer a small fee alongside.

With both clubs needing to sell in order to meet PSR regulations, deals could be completed as quickly as three weeks. The transfer window itself opens on 14th June.