Frank Lampard has continued to back up his self-proclaimed willingness to his give youth players opportunities when they are earned. Of course, the inevitable has happened… Billy Gilmour has now been promoted to Chelsea’s first team on a permanent basis, and rightly so.
“Knowing that the manager has such faith in you is massive, it gives me so much confidence when I step onto the field” said Gilmour following his promotion. Credit has to go to Lampard for instilling such confidence in the young player, something unheard of for a long time at Chelsea.
Gilmour, 18 years old, will be training alongside the best players at the club on a day to day basis, competing with the likes of Jorginho, Kovacic, Kante, RLC, Barkley and Mount for a place in the first team. A challenge he’ll no doubt be relishing and something he’s more than capable of rising up to.
The young Scotsman has made a meteoric rise to stardom in the last three years; from Rangers’ development team aged 15, to Chelsea’s academy (usually playing in age groups way above his) and finally making his senior debut in the Premier League against Sheffield United. (This was soon followed by his first start in Chelsea’s emphatic 7-1 victory over Grimsby.) He was one of the best players on the pitch with a stunningly mature midfield performance. Since then he’s had another three appearances, impressive considering his direct competition.
Scottish coach James Grady stated Gilmour has “the drive and desire to be the best” that he’s ever seen in any youth player in 28 years. It seems success is something that is built into Gilmour’s blood. So what is it exactly that has everybody’s head turning?
Confidence & Calmness
Anybody who has seen Gilmour play will tell you that he plays with the maturity of a 30-year-old. He has the rare ability to make the game look simple, often controlling proceedings and bringing the game down to his pace so he can dictate the play. His ice-cool demeanour and confidence in his own ability often sees him casually play his way out of trouble or orchestrate those around him.
If anybody needs an exhibition on how to play as a deep-lying playmaker, then look no further than his performance against Grimsby. He even received praise from Chelsea talisman Cesc Fabregas who dubbed him as “amazing” whilst highlighting his personality on the pitch.
Passing and Technique
From what we’ve seen so far, it would appear Chelsea view Gilmour’s future in the bracket of a deep-lying playmaker. Gilmour himself has said that he’s constantly analysing players like Cesc Fabregas, Luka Modric and Andreas Iniesta as a basis for his game.
His first team performances this season have seen him average a pass completion rate of 94% whilst totalling six key passes in the process. What makes his passing stand out his genuine intention to make something happen, often playing with his head up and finding the ball between the lines. This, partnered with his knack of applying the perfect amount of weight to each pass, already puts him in the mould of one of the top passers at the club.
One of the key successes of Chelsea’s academy is the ability to develop their players’ understanding of multiple positions. From what we’ve seen so far, Gilmour shines as the deeper central figure of a midfield three, but anybody who has seen his academy performances will note that he’s comfortable playing in multiple central-midfield roles. Whether in a double pivot, a deep lying CDM or a more advanced attacking midfielder, Gilmour maintains a prowess exceptional for his age and experience.
His talents lie much further than just top passing. His positional and tactical awareness have already surpassed the likes of Ross Barkley. He has a solid strike on him, and despite his slight frame he’s not afraid to showcase that Scottish spirit with a tough tackle, diving into 50/50’s with men literally double his age (and size).
Without a doubt, it looks as though Gilmour’s future lies as a deep-lying playmaker role; but his versatility is something that Chelsea’s current midfield lack, and I’m sure his ability to play multiple positions is a strong factor in Lampard’s decision to promote him to the first team.
Chelsea have a real winner in Gilmour. Though we can’t expect to see him playing too regularly this season, Lampard has a tendency to surprise fans with his line-ups, and I think we’ll get to see Gilmour shine earlier than we think. There is no doubt he’ll rise to the challenge again and again.
Written By: Scotty. A
Edited By: Kristen