Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has held showdown talks with three players on the brink of a Stamford Bridge exit in January. The Blues host Middlesbrough tonight in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final, but will kick-off amid much uncertainty over the future of some key personnel.
The situation with midfielder Conor Gallagher remains in the balance, with the 23-year-old still having 18 months remaining on his current deal. But given the England international, made captain in the absence of Reece James this season, is a club academy product then a big-money sale would improve Chelsea’s precarious position when it comes to Financial Fair Play.
Tottenham were heavily linked with a move for Gallagher in the summer, with Ange Postecoglou still waiting in the wings if Chelsea do decide to sell. But in his pre-match press conference for the Boro game on Monday, Pochettino insisted no final decision on the player had been taken, with discussions also ongoing with two of his other squad members.
“No, no, no,” he replied, when pressed on whether Gallagher’s future had been decided. “We talked about many, many subjects because it’s normal. But it’s a very natural situation that, of course, we talk in a very natural way.
“If you want to ask me if I was talking with Conor about this situation, yes. Like all the players when some rumour happens, always it’s good to have a good conversation with the player, like Ian Maatsen, or different players like this, Andrey Santos.”
Pochettino also argued that coaches having “honest conversations” with players was healthy, and praised Gallagher, who has already cemented himself as a fan favourite in west London. “I think he’s doing a fantastic job, he’s working well, he’s helping the club and us and team-mates a lot.
“We are happy with his performances. He has an advantage because he knows the club, he knows the demands of the Premier League. We are so happy with him.”
Left-back Maatsen meanwhile, 21, is reportedly on the verge of a move to Borussia Dortmund. The Dutchman has failed to hold down a regular place this year after three successive seasons of being sent out on loan, and is due to travel to Germany for a medical on Wednesday.
Brazilian midfielder Santos is now back at Chelsea having had his loan spell at Nottingham Forest cut short. The 19-year-old is yet to make a senior appearance for the club after signing from Vasco da Garma 12 months ago, and has been linked with Championship side West Brom.