Strong rumours have linked Sam Gallagher with a move away from the south coast to the Championship this summer- but it is reported that the 21-year-old striker is instead set to be handed a new long term contract by the Saints.
Besides the fact that Sam Gallagher has been linked with a move away from St. Mary’s to numerous Championship clubs for a £7-million deal this summer; in the past few days it has been reported by the Daily Mirror and multiple other media outlets that the club is to reject any approaches for the promising forward from Devon. Sam is instead being subject to a new long-term contract offer from the Saints, as his current contract seeks to run out in 2018 and the club would risk losing him for free in the summer.
Sam Gallagher was snapped up from the Plymouth academy aged 16-years-old in 2012; the year after Saints also signed-up fellow teammate and May’s player-of-the-month Jack Stephens.
Gallagher made his first appearance aged-18 for the first team in the 2013/14 season under the wing of Argentine Mauricio Pochettino, replacing Gaston Ramirez in the 79th minute. The centre-forward, who can also operate down either flank, then made a huge impression bashing in a second-half hat-trick to demolish Portsmouth 7-0 in the FA Youth Cup, before scoring his first senior goal two months later in a 4-2 win over Norwich in the FA Cup.
His fine form (including a wondergoal in the U21 BPL cup final) and promising potential led him to receiving a contract extension until 2018. But what has happened to Gallagher who hasn’t made a first team appearance for the Saints since his breakthrough 2013/14 season?
Well, at the very end of July 2014, the striker suffered a severe knee injury which kept him out of action until February 2015. Alongside Ronald Koeman’s reluctance to use the Southampton youth and Gallagher’s burning desire to discover regular playing time (to gain experience and develop his blatant potential), Sam has since earned his trade in the Championship on loan at Blackburn Rovers.
In 2015/16 the striker joined Championship-side MK Dons, in which he scored no goals before being recalled in January. It was rumoured that Gallagher was struggling with issues stemming from a growth spurt in his time at the Dons, but these issues seem to have now been ironed out as he enjoyed a seemingly successful loan in the 2016/17 season with Blackburn Rovers.
Scoring 12 goals in 46 appearances in a season of relegation at Ewood Park is no mean feat and one that Sam should be proud of, as he contended for Blackburn’s player of the season award. Rovers manager Tony Mowbray had kind words to say about the 21-year-old from Devon, stating in a club interview the following:
“The supporters won’t necessarily know his personality but he looks you right in the eye and he wants to work hard, he wants to be a better footballer, he wants to listen and try and improve every day,”
“They are fantastic qualities for a young guy to have really, he knows he’s not the finished article. He’s got some fantastic attributes that are going to make him a hell of a footballer in a few years time. A guy who can do everything, out-strength you, out-run you. Hopefully he can become cleverer with his movement, he is going to be some player.” -Tony Mowbray (Blackburn Rovers Manager, February 2017)
Promising words from a very respected manager and former player.
What are these attributes that Sam possesses and can they benefit our first team?
Well, first and foremost- the lad is a giant. Standing at over 6’4″, Gallagher has the perfect frame that can be moulded via the Southampton way and be transformed into a fearful target-man. His size can however also be very misleading for his style of play.
Of course, he can play with his back to goal and rough up the opposing centre-backs like a typical target-man; however he also has a small burst of pace alongside a decent ability at dribbling. Both are useful attributes to have that allow him to play on either wing. Gallagher is already a decent natural goalscorer, who seems to pop in the right places at the right time using his great technique to slam shots home, but it is clear he isn’t quite the finished article.
A diamond in the rough.
Despite this, I believe as a third or fourth choice striker he offers us something different to our current striking options. He adds much needed versatility and height to a somewhat small squad, something which we lacked immensely whilst Austin was out injured.
Sending dodgy long-balls up to a lone Gabbiadini for a counter-attack was a no-go tactic that should never have been employed by Puel. If it was Gallagher, who could hold the ball up, it might’ve worked and thus been a different story for the Frenchman.
He needs to work on his decision making, toughen himself into a brute and gain that all important match experience to learn how to use his undoubted talent/size to win games- which is often why target-men always seem to bloom later into the careers. Think of Pelle and Lambert, both players reached their peak as they reached their late twenties.
Under the wing of recently appointed manager Mauricio Pellegrino and his soon to be announced coaching staff, I have no doubts whatsoever that with some hard work in the gym and on the pitch, super Sam Gallagher can turn into a true cult hero at St Mary’s.
High potential, with a long career ahead of him. Sam Gallagher is definitely worthy of a new Southampton contract and a fair chance to stake a claim in pre-season.
Do you think Sam deserves a new contract? Do you think he should be sent on loan once again or kept for the first team? Give your views in the comments below!