Having moved permanently into the senior squad following the winter break earlier this year, 18-year-old Billy Gilmour has made massive strides, gaining the faith and trust of manager Frank Lampard, as well as plenty of plaudits.
Before the break in play around Europe, Gilmour was finally starting to establish himself as an important member of the Chelsea first-team squad, with excellent and deserved man of the match performances against Liverpool in the FA Cup, and Everton in the Premier League.
With the likes of Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante providing competition in the deeper midfield positions, Gilmour has been slowly introduced into the first-team set-up at Stamford Bridge throughout the course of this season.
However, in his limited minutes, he has more than demonstrated the quality that he possesses, and displayed why Chelsea paid an initial £500,000 to sign him as just a 16-year-old.
THE MOVE FROM RANGERS
In Scotland, Gilmour became the poster boy for Rangers’ academy, making his debut for the U-20 side when he was just 15, and being invited to train with the first-team just a month later.
The chance to become the club’s youngest ever debutant was right around the corner, but he instead opted for a bold move to Chelsea in the summer of 2017, claiming “when Chelsea showed me what their plan was for me, I just couldn’t turn it down”.
At the time of Gilmour’s signing, Chelsea were prioritising on developing London-born talents and moulding them into the core of the academy. Gilmour, however, was seen as a generational talent they couldn’t let slip, and hence the club poured a sizable amount of resources into securing his signature.
Chelsea YOUTH TEAM
Even though he’s more renowned for his incredible passing ability, with comparisons having already been made to Barcelona legends Xavi and Andres Iniesta, his time with the U23s saw a fairly successful goal return.
His seven goals and 10 assists in 37 U23 games is not a record to be sniffed at; as well as the fact that he scored in his first three games having joined from Rangers.
However, it is his leadership and calmness on the ball that makes Gilmour so aesthetically pleasing on the eye, and a talent that could potentially help Chelsea jump to the next step and compete for the Premier League title once again.
The Scotsman captained the U23s on many occasions this season, and it soon became clear that he was ready to make the jump up to senior level, with Lampard handing him his Premier League debut as an 84th minute sub against Sheffield United in August 2019.
IMPRESSING IN FIRST-TEAM CAMEOS
Although Gilmour is clearly a favourite of Lampard’s, his age and inexperience has meant that he has been slowly integrated into the side this season.
Gilmour's breakthrough performance against Liverpool in the FA Cup
His 99 Premier League minutes, and 272 in cup competitions, have yielded plenty of praise for the player who won the “Revelation of the Tournament” award at the 2018 Toulon Tournament for Scotland’s U21 side.
Whilst an average of 1.2 tackles and 0.5 interceptions p90 in all competitions this season isn’t spectacular, this will increase with experience and game time, and it’s Gilmour’s ability on the ball that is far more impressive.
With 82.7 passes p90 in the Premier League, a tally that almost matches Mateo Kovacic’s 83.4, Gilmour has demonstrated that he can already control the tempo of a match, despite his young age.
His 91% pass accuracy actually betters the aforementioned Kovacic’s 90%, and Scotland have banked on the metronomic midfielder to be their next big thing, with his always-on-the-move style of play one that has already endeared him to Chelsea fans.
If Jorginho does leave this summer, it may be sensible to buy an experienced replacement, in the ilk of the Italian, but if given the chance, Gilmour could easily be the man to play the number 6 role for the foreseeable future at Stamford Bridge.