We’re delighted to welcome former West Brom striker Kevin Phillips as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at The Hawthorns…
Kevin Phillips admits it’s unlikely that West Brom will be able to sign Conor Gallagher again from Chelsea at the end of the season if they are relegated.
Gallagher, 20, joined the Baggies on a season-long loan deal in September and since breaking into Slaven Bilic’s starting line-up, the midfielder has impressed fans with his performances in the Premier League.
According to stats by WyScout, Gallagher ranks first in the Premier League and fifth in Europe’s top five leagues for the number of defensive duels he’s been involved in per 90 minutes of top-flight football this season [13.58].
The former Charlton and Swansea loanee has really added some tough defensive steel to West Brom’s midfield while also being able to show he’s capable of impressing on the ball with him averaging 3.02 dribbles and 1.32 shot assists per 90 minutes while also completing 83.2 per cent of all his passes.
Naturally, Gallagher’s good form has led to speculation surrounding his future with The Sun recently reporting that Crystal Palace, Leeds and Newcastle have all taken a liking to the England Under-21 international.
Gallagher signed a new five-year contract at Chelsea before being loaned out to the Baggies in September but it remains to be seen whether he is in the long-term plans of Frank Lampard or whether he will become yet another Stamford Bridge prospect who’s shipped out on loan every single season.
But Phillips isn’t holding his breath when it comes to Albion’s chances of potentially re-signing Gallagher at the end of the season – especially if the Black Country outfit drops back into the Championship.
“It just depends where West Brom are and what the player’s thinking. If you get relegated then the player will want to stay in the Premier League – it happened to me when I got relegated at Southampton,” Phillips told West Brom News.
“That’s no disrespect to the club you’re leaving but you want to play at the highest level for as long as you can and for every season.
“Gallagher has proven he can play at this level so there’s no surprise that clubs are linked with him.
“If West Brom went down it would be very difficult to keep hold of the player.”
We’re not too concerned about Gallagher’s future at West Brom just yet – unless Chelsea decide to recall him in January for whatever reason.
That seems unlikely given the strength of Frank Lampard’s midfield in the capital so Bilic should just focus on keeping the 20-year-old for this current campaign rather than planning for anything after.