Raheem Sterling 'intense' Chelsea impact shows that Conor Gallagher fits new Tuchel plan


Thomas Tuchel could not hide his praise for Raheem Sterling, or his passionate plea to Todd Boehly earlier in the summer to get a deal done for the 27-year-old. When asked about his potential impact at Stamford Bridge and why he became the prime attacking target, the German was his usually specific self.

"It's not about his goalscoring last season or about his performance against us. It's eye- catching, of course, when he plays against you – he caused us huge trouble – but once you dig deeper into his data, beyond his goal involvements and into his high-speed intensity, over 30km-an-hour, the amount of repetitive intensity, it's outstanding.

"It's exactly what we need to raise the level of our players, that they understand what is needed. That's what we are so sure, and that's why it was like for us top of the list."

The repetitive intensity is something Tuchel has referred to before as Chelsea's head coach. More in reference to the struggle he has had to maintain it throughout large periods of the season or within games, Tuchel's counter-pressing system has been a challenge to maintain consistently.

"It does not drive you crazy, or sometimes it does drive you crazy as a manager," Tuchel told football.london back in May following a disappointing draw at Manchester United.

"You analyse the data, and you see like also on a physical level that we drop intensity, we drop kilometres, we drop effort actually. So you ask yourself, 'Should I have been aware of it before? Should I have changed more positions, fresher legs?

 Was it the moment? Yes, no? Where did it come from?' You will never be fully sure. But what you can do is … you cannot get stuck in the past."

Tuchel would have hoped that the conclusion of a taxing 63-game season and the end of uncertainty over the ownership that clouded everything in the remaining weeks of last season should allow for a clean slate.

Not only does the signing of Sterling add a player who has lived in the relentless intensity of Pep Guardiola's Manchester City since 2016, but the decision to fully integrate midfielder Conor Gallagher into the first team also aligns with the search for more intensity.

Gallagher is known for his raw tenacity and tireless work rate. Along with the quality in the final-third for Crystal Palace last term that saw him net eight times, in a game against Manchester City he ran 12.5km, the most of a Palace player in the Premier League during last term.

Gallagher ended the year top of the Eagles' player running stats, with Sky Sports tallying his overall distance covered at 356km - 15km more than second-placed Tyrick Mitchell.

Stylistically Gallagher has been compared to his fellow Cobham graduate Mason Mount, who has become an integral part of Tuchel's squad over the past 17 months, also proving to be a player essential to maintaining the level of energy Tuchel desires.

Gallagher betters Mount's pressures per 90 over last season of 20.72, with 24.71 via FBRef, placing him in the 90th percentile of players across the top five European leagues.

With the introduction of five substitutes and the combined intensity of Sterling, Gallagher and Mount, Tuchel will hope the Blues will become a team nobody wants to play against.

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