By David Williams
Former Swansea City loan star Conor Gallagher is close to joining West Bromwich Albion for another campaign away from parent club Chelsea.
Gallagher had appeared likely to join Crystal Palace but that deal fell through and now the midfielder, who impressed for the Swans last season as they surged into the play-offs, is instead heading for newly-promoted West Brom.
The 20-year-old is expected to sign a new contract with Chelsea that ties his long-term future to the club, but manager Frank Lampard wants him to get more game time and experience in the Premier League.
Last week, it looked as though Gallagher was all set to join up with Roy Hodgson’s Palace side, but when Michy Batshuayi became available, Hodgson opted to take the striker on loan instead. Premier League rules state that clubs can only take one loanee from another top-flight club.
When that move fell through, West Brom manager Slaven Bilic moved quickly to secure a deal that will see Gallagher move to the Hawthorns in the coming days.
Swansea’s other loan success of last season, Rhian Brewster, remains with Liverpool with manager Jurgen Klopp still undecided whether the young striker should go out on a loan again.
The Swans remain keen to have Brewster back for a second spell to add to the six months he spent with the club from January, but there are also a number of Premier League sides still hoping to recruit the 20-year-old for this campaign.
With uncertainty over Brewster’s future, the Swans are reported to be looking at other options, said to include Monaco winger Samuel Grandsir.
Monaco are looking for £2.3m for the 24-year-old, though Swansea’s preference is for a loan deal, with an option to buy.
Derby County are also said to be keen on Grandsir, who spent last season on loan at Stade Brest.
While Swans manager Steve Cooper considers his striking options, he has expressed his satisfaction with his young defensive trio of Ben Cabango, Joe Rodon and Marc Guehi in last weekend’s opening day 1-0 victory at Preston.
“The three centre-halves are such young boys. Joe is the oldest in there and he is 22. They are still kids really, and to be dealing with the experience of Preston in the latter stage of the game was excellent,” said Cooper.
“Ben had only played a 60-minute game with us before the Preston game. He had been away with Wales. It was great he got his cap although he did not get many minutes, but we understand that.
“It was a big shout to put him in to play 90 minutes, but I thought the back three and Freddie were really good without the ball and showed a lot of commitment.
“A 1-0 win away from home is brilliant, you get a goal and get a clean sheet. The way we did it was impressive.
“They did not get near the goal really in the first half, there was nothing of note for Freddie to deal with.
“Then, late in the second half, there were constant balls into the box, and the law of averages tends to tell you they might get a goal, a free-kick or penalty, or Freddie Woodman has to make a save.
“But there was none of that, I felt as a unit we were defensively sound. It’s excellent to get a clean sheet.”