How good is Billy Gilmour?
Billy Gilmour - The archetype of a golden youngster
Amid the hectic nature of a stressful, draining and eventually unsuccessful transfer window of the first team, a seemingly random Scottish guy signed for the academy system in the summer of 2017. Billy Gilmour came to Chelsea from Rangers for a controversial fee of half a million pounds, a sum which led different tabloids question if "The Blues" made the right decision to sign such a raw and unknown player, without foreseeing what would come next.
Billy's general maturity was obvious from the very beginning. If you paid a close attention to the academy games, you would notice in him a player with an admirable personality, a young lad who boosted a great range of passing and technical ability, being able to spread precise passes in the wide areas or even play "mouth-watering" through balls forward. Beyond that, it was Gilmour's tactical versatility who provided both a luxury and a headache to Jody Morris, at the time the manager of Chelsea U18. The 20 year-old, back then only 17, was deployed in both no.6, a position in which he has considerably evolved now, and as a more advanced no.8, occasionally scoring from long-range, including a strike versus Arsenal at the Emirates in the FA Youth Cup final (return leg), eventually won 4-0 by Chelsea.
Anyhow, the breakthrough in the first team would came two years later, when Billy was part of the talented bunch of youngsters willingly promoted by Frank Lampard. To Billy's lack of fortune in particular, Chelsea conceded a few minutes after his non-full debut against Sheffield United, courtesy of a Kurt Zouma own-goal, that proved to be "The Blades" unexpected equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. This fuelled the criticism towards Lampard, who was accused of making such a courageous substitution when his team had to protect a 2-1 lead. Certainly, as many things in football and life, this was another example of a reactionary judgement.
Game after game, Billy was making people keep their eyes glued to the screen and it was the first week of March 2020 when he stole the show in his full FA Cup and Premier League debuts, incidentally, against the two Merseyside clubs: Liverpool in the FA Cup and a few days later, Everton in the Premiership.
In both games he shinned brilliantly, showing exceptional composure and sharpness in terms of positional awareness and vertical passing, which led to him being consecutively named MOTM, despite the very young age, lack of previous experience and the quality of the oppositions.
Since then, Billy has been climbing an uphill road towards prominence. In December he won the MOTM award after his first Champions League start against Krasnodar, although he was deployed in a more advanced position than his usual no.6 one and only a month ago, Gilmour's constant growth was marked by yet another MOTM award. This time on his debut for the national team, Scotland, in an emotionally-tense game vs England. However, more than these achievements, it's Billy's humble character and the non-flamboyant profile he has developed inside himself, which make him one of the most promising young talents in the modern era of football and surely someone to keep an eye on for years to come.