'He surprised me': Manager says he's been shocked by how good a finisher 22-year-old Chelsea loanee actually is

Patrick Vieira admits that he has been taken aback by Conor Gallagher’s ability in the final third.

Speaking to Sky Sports, the Crystal Palace manager confessed to being surprised by many aspects of Gallagher’s game since Chelsea allowed him to move on loan.

All smiles in South West Lonon

Vieira would be excused for not knowing too much about Gallagher before he replaced Roy Hodgson at Selhurst Park.

Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The England international had only played one Premier League season ahead of his transfer across the capital last summer.

Although he enjoyed a decent individual campaign, the 22-year-old could not prevent West Bromwich Albion from being relegated.

Meanwhile, Vieira was managing Ligue 1 club Nice before being sacked in December.

Now, the pair have been working together for nearly 12 months and are certainly reaping the rewards of their relationship.

Palace comfortably perch in 12th place, with almost an identical record both home and away.

They are a really difficult opponent to come up against, thanks to the youthful exuberance that runs throughout the side.

This was epitomised in the two encounters with Manchester City, where the Eagles won at the Etihad and held the league leaders to a 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture.

Conor keeps on surprising

In Manchester, Gallagher stole the show by scoring and assisting in the 2-0 victory on the road.

Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

He converted again in the next match, another 2-0 triumph but this time at the expense of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Overall, the Chelsea academy product has eight goals for the campaign, a figure Vieira initially perhaps didn’t think he would reach.

“He surprised me with his finishing, he surprised me with his energy, he surprised me with the way he gets into the box at the right time to score goals,” said the French coach on Gallagher’s skill set.

“He is a team player and this is what I really love about him.

“He sacrifices himself on the field for the team.

“I’m glad he gets praise because of the goals that he is scoring but everything he does is good for the team.”

Unfortunately for Vieira, the more Gallagher scores and generally impresses, the more likely he is to leave Palace once his loan expires in June.

Unless Steve Paris can conjure up the cash needed to sign him permanently, the player will probably (hopefully) be heading back to Chelsea.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.