What’s going on with Gilmour? Chelsea’s golden boy pushed further towards fringes after Tuchel’s arrival

gilmour » NBS NEWS
The 19-year-old is one of the most exciting midfield talents in British football but he is now struggling to even secure a seat on the bench

Billy Gilmour was named in the Chelsea starting line-up for a key clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last July. His inclusion underlined just how rapidly the Scot’s stock was rising at Stamford Bridge.

After two man of the match-winning displays before the pandemic-enforced suspension of football in England, against Liverpool and Everton, Gilmour looked poised to become a key player under Frank Lampard.

However, the midfielder suffered a knee injury towards the end of the first half. Not knowing how serious it was, the Scotland Under-21 international played on for another 35 minutes before eventually coming off.

Gilmour was forced to undergo surgery to resolve a meniscus tear and, after four months out, he returned to the fold in December determined to force his way back into the first-team reckoning at Chelsea so that he could secure a place in Scotland’s European Championship squad.

They have been lofty ambitions for a 19-year-old but nobody doubted Gilmour’s ability to realise his goals.

After all, we’re talking about a very special talent that Chelsea had to fight incredibly hard to sign from Rangers in 2017. Despite intense competition, the Blues managed to secure Gilmour’s services with a potentially record-breaking transfer fee for a British 16-year-old.

However, after making a meteoric rise to the senior squad, things have not gone according to plan since his injury setback.

Gilmour has found first-team chances difficult to come by over the past five months, first under Lampard, and now the Englishman’s successor, Thomas Tuchel.

With their £220 million ($275m) summer spending spree having only further intensified competition for places, Chelsea unsurprisingly considered sending Gilmour out on loan in January. Southampton were among the English clubs to show an interest, while there were also several overseas options.

However, having been impressed by the 19-year-old’s ability and work ethic in training, Tuchel chose to keep Gilmour around for the second half of the season.

What's going on with Gilmour? Chelsea's golden boy pushed further towards fringes after Tuchel's arrivalWhat's going on with Gilmour? Chelsea's golden boy pushed further towards fringes after Tuchel's arrival

“It’s absolutely no mistake. It was unfortunately not his choice; it was my choice,” the German told reporters. “The choice was made for Chelsea and not for the personal goals of Billy.

“But he accepted it in a five-minute talk. He had no problem with it.”

Although Gilmour was open to a loan move in order to secure regular first-team football ahead of the Euros, he was encouraged by the fact that Tuchel wanted to work with him.

There was also optimism at the prospect of further developing his game under such a famed tactician, even if it meant less game time. The long-term gain would be worth the short-term pain, essentially.

However, Gilmour has made just two FA Cup appearances since Tuchel took charge 16 games ago. Indeed, he isn’t even appearing from the bench and was the only senior player to be left out of Chelsea’s Champions League squad to face Porto in midweek.

Tuchel is understood to have taken Gilmour aside to explain the situation, which is no surprise. The new boss has been making a serious effort to engage even the fringe players in the current group.

So, only time will tell if Gilmour is using his spare time well behind the scenes, or whether the lack of minutes at senior level will hinder his development.

As it stands, though, it is hard to see Gilmour starting as regularly for Chelsea as he was last season, meaning his dream of representing his country at the Euros is unlikely to be realised.

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