Petr Cech confessed that Conor Gallagher nearly linked up with the senior Chelsea squad for the season before he was sent to Crystal Palace.
Writing in his column for the club website, Cech revealed the young midfielder had almost broken into the first-team mould.
The 21-year-old did train with Thomas Tuchel’s squad ahead of the competitive campaign.
He even featured in a friendly away to Bournemouth, playing the whole 90 minutes at the Vitality Stadium.
Yet, the Blues chain of command decided Gallagher’s efforts would be best spent out on loan again.
Gallagher gone with the wind
They shipped him across town to link up with Patrick Vieira’s Eagles.
Thankfully, the move has since proved to be a brilliant one for the player and Palace.
He is now 11 games into his Selhurst Park stint and Gallagher is already on four goals and two assists.
Not to mention a smattering of man-of-the-match displays and perhaps most importantly, a first call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
All achieved thanks to Chelsea’s correct choice of letting their academy product spread his wings.
Brink of being a Blue
Cech explained that this decision was not taken lightly, though.
“Conor was very close in terms of making the team here in the summer and we were really happy with him but it was the same as with Billy Gilmour and we felt at that stage of their careers they needed to go and play as many games as possible,” said the iconic goalkeeper.
“They are both at the stage where we really want them to become core players for Chelsea so it was better for them to go and play.
“For Conor to get the England call-up was absolutely amazing and to make his debut was obviously even more amazing.
“If he didn’t go to Crystal Palace and perform but rather stayed here and maybe didn’t play every game then that would never have happened.
“Conor will come back to us in a completely different situation than he was six months ago and that’s the beauty of it.”
Back to the Bridge?
Returning to and flourishing at Chelsea would seem to be Gallagher’s ultimate ambition.
However, the England international apparently has doubts over such a scenario.
Eurosport claim the Palace loanee is fearful of reclaiming a spot in Tuchel’s team due to the transfer activity his employers may or may not do in the next few windows.
Based on Gallagher’s form, Chelsea would be unwise not to integrate him into the set-up.