Leeds United’s pursuit of a central midfielder this summer has taken them to West London, twice.
First, the club secured the addition of Lewis Bate – an 18-year-old England youth international whose pathway at Chelsea was somewhat blocked.
Leeds were able to lure the Stamford Bridge hopeful to Elland Road, where the first-team picture is much clearer and less shrouded by the likes of N’Golo Kante, Billy Gilmour and Jorginho.
Secondly, the Whites returned to Chelsea to enquire about the availability of 21-year-old Conor Gallagher.
The ex-Charlton Athletic, Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion loanee has a great deal more experience than Bate, who Leeds landed for roughly £1.5 million, but faces a similar problem.
Victor Orta was informed Gallagher would be available this summer, but only on loan. While not currently in Thomas Tuchel’s plans, Chelsea do see a future at the club for England U-21 international Gallagher.
Conor Gallagher (L) and Marc Guehi (R) with England at the U-17 World Cup
(Image: Buda Mendes – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
This summer has seen something of an exodus from Stamford Bridge, or more accurately the club’s Cobham training complex.
Chelsea’s academy is a prolific one, and not just in terms of winning the FA Youth Cup seven times in the past ten years.
The rate at which Cobham produces young players means budding footballers aged between 18-21 often reach an impasse.
With no realistic prospect of first-team football, but possessing skills surpassing the level of U23 football, moves are sought.
Myles Peart-Harris left to join Brentford, Fikayo Tomori exited permanently for AC Milan, while Bate made the switch to Leeds.
Right-back Toni Livramento could follow in the footsteps of ex-Chelsea graduate Tariq Lamptey, by joining up with the defender at Brighton, while Tammy Abraham – another Cobham alumnus – could yet leave the club for good.
Marc Guehi (L) and Conor Gallagher (R) celebrate a goal for Chelsea’s U-18 side
(Image: Chelsea Football Club/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Many of these players Conor Gallagher has played with and featured alongside during his time at Chelsea, but none more so than Marc Guehi.
The ex-Swansea City loanee joined Crystal Palace on a permanent deal this summer, ending his 14-year association with Chelsea.
Gallagher has played alongside Guehi 105 times, for a cumulative 7,000 minutes – and that is just from the 2016/17 season onwards.
The two players’ birthdays are separated by just five months, having joined the club at the same time.
Gallagher and Guehi have grown up together, playing in the same teams throughout their formative years.
Marc Guehi (furthest left; middle row) and Conor Gallagher (second from right; middle row) sign for Chelsea in 2007.
The pair won the U-17 World Cup with England in 2017, secured victory in the FA Youth Cup in 2017/18, reached the UEFA Youth League Final side-by-side in 2019 and have represented England at U-19 and U-21 level.
Then, in the second half of the 2019/20 campaign, both Gallagher and Guehi were farmed out to Swansea City on six-month loan deals where they helped guide the Swans to an unlikely play-off run.
Simply put, they have been almost inseparable.
Last year, a division split the duo with Guehi remaining at the Liberty Stadium, and Gallagher seeking Premier League pastures with West Brom.
A reunion at Selhurst Park looks more probable at this point than Gallagher making the temporary move to Leeds, regardless of how well he would fit in under Marcelo Bielsa.