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‘It has upset me so much, please stop’ – Pochettino fiercely defends Gallagher as Chelsea ace slammed over mascot ‘snub’

MAURICIO POCHETTINO has fiercely defended Conor Gallagher following a barrage of criticism that the Chelsea captain ignored a mascot.

Video shows Gallagher appear to leave the young kid hanging when he holds out his hand for a high five in the tunnel before Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Burnley.

Chelsea say this tunnel moment involving Conor Gallagher and the mascot has been 'taken considerably out of context'

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Chelsea say this tunnel moment involving Conor Gallagher and the mascot has been ‘taken considerably out of context’
Gallagher was shown focusing intensively ahead of the Burnley game but at one stage also had his arms around two mascots

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Gallagher was shown focusing intensively ahead of the Burnley game but at one stage also had his arms around two mascots

It has prompted a wave of abuse on social media – to the extent that Chelsea issued a statement in support of the midfielder before boss Pochettino waded in.

He said: “It has upset me so much because no-one wants to do something like this, with this intention.

“He did so well, with so many photos, videos and photography with both mascots. When you play football, you are focusing on so many things, to play, to start the game, that sometimes it can happen.

“People always try to find things to create a mess and to abuse people. I know Conor.

“There is no intention. Conor is a great kid, always caring about everything. I hate it when people feel free to abuse on social media.

“It is so easy and it gives too much attention to people that want to create this type of situation or mess. Please, stop.

“Who believes Conor wanted to ignore a mascot? Come on. It makes me sad because Conor doesn’t deserve to be abused.

“No-one deserves to be abused but him? Come on.”

The incident was branded ‘shameful’ and ‘embarrassing’ in the more extreme reactions on social media.

It prompted the Blues to publicly back their player, who has been with them for 16 years.

Erik Ten Hag previews Man United’s Premier League clash with Chelsea

A statement read: “Chelsea Football Club is aware of a video clip circulating on social media from Saturday’s fixture against Burnley, which has been taken considerably out of context.

“The subsequent level of abuse and defamatory comments directed towards Conor Gallagher is completely unacceptable.

“We are proud to be a diverse, inclusive club where people from all cultures, communities and identities feel welcome.”

Whether words from Pochettino or the club will ward off the trolls is open to doubt but it means Gallagher will be under more scrutiny when Chelsea face Manchester United on Thursday night.

He is already favourite to leave the club come summer as owners Clearlake Capital bid to raise cash to avoid breaking Profitability and Sustainability Rules for overspending.

With barely a year left on his contract things are coming to a head.

Thursday’s clash underlines how things have not changed at Stamford Bridge when it comes to muddled negotiations with players – particularly home grown ones.

Mason Mount is due back at Stamford Bridge nine months after being sold to United for £60m when he was in precisely the same position as Gallagher is now.

The symmetry is compelling and should be concerning for Chelsea as they prepare for another summer clearout to stay on the right side of spending rules.

Mason Mount hopes to face old club Chelsea on Thursday after grabbing his first goal for Man Utd in Saturday's 1-1 Prem draw at Brentford

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Mason Mount hopes to face old club Chelsea on Thursday after grabbing his first goal for Man Utd in Saturday’s 1-1 Prem draw at BrentfordCredit: Alamy

There is just a year in age between Gallagher and Mount.

Both grew up at Chelsea’s renowned academy and forced their way into the first team. They have worn the captain’s armband.

Talks about a new deal for Mount drifted and he ended up leaving last summer under a cloud with just a year left on his contract. What should have been the easiest deal to negotiate collapsed.

Gallagher is approaching that point whilst remaining popular with the fans as ‘one of our own’.

His energy and ability to score vital goals in the nick of time makes him highly prized – just like his old stablemate.

A player’s value is considered  highest with two years left on a contract.

Mount slipped past that point and Chelsea have let it slide with Gallagher too.

Accountants can argue that £60m was a good price for Mount. He has been injured much of this season and needs to start paying back on the investment.

But he scored his first goal for United on Saturday so is primed to return to Stamford Bridge and hit his old club hard.

Ironically, rookie academy first-teamer Alfie Gilchrist signed a new two year contract just two days ago but Gallagher is still swinging in the wind like a mascot’s hand.

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