Newcastle can't afford to miss out on this dynamic £45m midfielder in January

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Spurs have already been linked with a transfer bid for a £45m England international - but Newcastle United should be in the bidding as well.

Reports that Chelsea are once again considering the sale of Conor Gallagher may seem surprising but sadly ring true, and there is every chance that a player who has been a staple of the side since Mauricio Pochettino took charge will be looking for new employment in January. Tottenham Hotspur have been touted as the main contenders for his signature, while West Ham United bid for Gallagher over the summer – but they are not the only teams that should consider splashing out on the England international.

Gallagher has been one of Chelsea’s best and most consistent players this season, but their extravagant spending means that his sale may be a necessity. Sales of home-grown players are treated as pure profit by the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules, while sales of players on which money was spent have their initial cost counted against the income generated from their transfer – so for a club like Chelsea, who have to balance the books after record spending, selling players that came through the academy system makes sense, and Gallagher would be one of the most profitable players for them to move on.

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They initially tried to move him on over the summer, with an asking price of £45m – a fee that proved to be too steep for his suitors at the time. His form over the course of this campaign, however, may see a side like Spurs reconsider his value and make a fresh attempt to secure his services, especially with injuries winnowing down their squad. Gallagher’s energy, versatility and quality would make him a fine fit for Ange Postecoglou’s team, but they aren’t the only side of which that can be said. Newcastle United are another team that should be very interested in signing him.

Newcastle were tentatively suggested by the press as a potential destination for Gallagher in the summer, although no concrete evidence that they were interested ever emerged – but with an ongoing injury crisis severely testing the Magpies’ strength in depth, they may want to look for fresh legs, and Gallagher fits Eddie Howe’s tactics down to a T.

Newcastle’s three-man midfield typically asks two of the midfielders – most usually Brazilian duo Bruno Gumarães and Joelinton – to shuttle quickly between defence and attack, running with the ball or playing quick passes forward before getting up to support the attack. It’s a strategy that requires high levels of fitness and persistence, good distribution, strong ball-control skills and the ability to force turnovers and make tackles when possession is lost. Gallagher has all of those qualities in abundance.

There are very few midfielders in the Premier League who can ‘do everything’ to the degree that Gallagher is capable. His defensive contributions are impressive, with around four turnovers per game, and while many defensive midfielders can offer up similar numbers, few are also as adept with the ball at their feet or have the same passing range.

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Gallagher is excellent at getting the ball forward quickly and efficiently, making around eight progressive plays per match – that’s either passes or runs which get the ball into the box or at least ten yards further upfield, a key measure of a player’s capacity to spark attacks. He also generates just under three shot-creating actions per game, essentially a measure of creative efficacy. Again, dedicated attacking playmakers can match or exceed these numbers, but rarely can they do so while also making so many tackles and interceptions.

There really aren’t many weak spots to Gallagher’s game, although he could be more dangerous in front of goal himself – although he does generate more expected goals and assists than Bruno, and while Joelinton has better underlying numbers for finishing (as you might expect from a former striker), Gallagher is a better passer and generates more assists. He’s also substantially more effective out of possession than Bruno, for all the former Lyon man’s undeniable effort.

None of this means he would be a massive upgrade on either, but all of the evidence suggests that he’s far more effective and more well-rounded than other midfielders in Newcastle’s squad such as Sean Longstaff, whose underlying numbers are far below the kind of figures that Gallagher can put up. With other midfielders either very young (Lewis Miley), very injured (Joe Willock), or both (Elliot Anderson), Gallagher would seem like a very shrewd addition who could greatly improve Newcastle’s depth and up the overall levels of quality.

As always, there is a question of value. £45m doesn’t seem like an exorbitant asking price for a proven Premier League player and England international who, at just 23 years of age, still has plenty of good years ahead of him, but that doesn’t mean that Newcastle would be able to comfortably fit him into their budget – and there are other needs, especially in goal and at centre-half where injuries have bitten especially deep. It’s not clear if Chelsea would be willing to budge on their asking price, while there has already been a degree of backlash from supporters since the possibility of Gallagher’s departure was floated in the media. That might dissuade the money men at Stamford Bridge from cashing in on this particular asset, or at least encourage them to play hardball over the price. But if Newcastle can afford Gallagher, and he is able to move, then this is a chance that Howe should not pass up on. Gallagher is a quality player who almost exactly matches the profile of the players that Newcastle want.

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