Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said he apologized to Conor Gallagher for not allowing the loanee midfielder to play for Crystal Palace against his parent club in the FA Cup semi-final Sunday.
The 22-year-old has been one of the Premier League’s stars this season – registering eight goals and five assists – but will be in the stands at Wembley this weekend after the Blues rejected a request from Palace to donate special dispensation so that he could participate.
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Eagles boss Patrick Vieira described the decision as “something frustrating for Conor’s development” and that “the only one who will lose is Conor”.
When asked if he had contacted Gallagher directly, Tuchel told a press conference on Friday: “I had the chance to speak to Connor and I could also see his frustration. We got together. met a few weeks ago, I think after the national break, coincidentally in a restaurant and we chatted.
“The subject was brought up and I apologized because I know how competitive he is. I like him a lot, I know his character very well. It was a pleasure to have him here in pre-season and it is like that.
“We are playing to win the game and the rules were clear when we took the loan. I can fully understand Patrick Vieira and also Conor’s disappointment of course, but those were the rules when we took the loan and we don’t want to suffer from our rules.”
Romelu Lukaku is back in training following an Achilles problem, but the build-up to another big game for Chelsea has been complicated by off-field issues after director Eugene Tenenbaum was sanctioned by the UK government in a bid to freeze more assets of outgoing owner Roman. Abramovich.
“I don’t know the implications and what it actually means for the club right now,” Tuchel said. “I was with the team and the staff yesterday and we heard it.
“At the moment I think it’s not another distraction, it’s just another one of a kind. We’re still hoping things will calm down and be sorted out in the process with the government.”
The deadline for bids to buy Chelsea passed on Thursday and a preferred bidder is expected to be identified early next week for final approval from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
“Nope, [I have not heard any update] to be very honest,” Tuchel added. “It’s still a process and I’ve heard talks are still going on with the government and I’m still not involved, which I’m glad to say because which we have a lot to focus on here.
“We hope things will be sorted out as soon as possible to have some clarity but I can understand it’s not that easy.”