Aged only 15, Rangers youngster Billy Gilmour finds himself a wanted boy. Chelsea have beaten off competition from the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal to sign the Scottish youngster, who is already tipped to become a top talent for both club and country.
Indeed, it had been previously suggested that the midfielder could be fast-tracked into Rangers’ senior squad, having made his debut for the Under-20 team in December and trained with the first team in January.
With the Glasgow giants struggling in third position in the Scottish Premiership and lagging Celtic by a massive margin, the promise of Gilmour has been one of the few rays of positivity for the Ibrox faithful this term.
While the youngster has already been burdened by a dangerous weight of expectation, the club are, nevertheless, hopeful that he can breakthrough and shine in the first team.
“Billy is a talented player and I’m sure many clubs are looking at him,” former Gers boss Mark Warburton said. “Our job is to show him the pathway there is to get to the first team.
“You look at the competition at English Premier League clubs and how hard it is for young players to get into their first teams. It is incredibly difficult.
“I like to think we can keep him here, develop him and he can play in the first team.”
Perhaps the greatest exposure that he has had to a wider audience was the Victory Shield in the autumn of 2016, in which Celtic youngster Karamoko Dembele grabbed much of the spotlight by appearing aged only 13.
The most striking thing about the promising player is his poise on the ball. Even when he receives possession in tight spaces under pressure, he is comfortable taking the ball and pivoting away from multiple opponents. His balance is remarkable and his patience in possession while waiting for the correct option to open up in front of him has the air of a far more mature player.
Arguably what is most impressive about him is that it is his technical abilities that allow him to stand out. Often in the mid-teens, it is a physical advantage that allows players to excel, but Gilmour has yet to fill out significantly. Though he may be on the scrawny side, he has shown that he is not scared of putting himself into a tackle and is deceptively strong on the ball against his peers.
He looks comfortable operating anywhere in the heart of the midfield. His range of passing is such that he can play in front of the defence to dictate the pace of the game from that position. In this area, he is afforded plenty of time to pick long, diagonal passes to the wingers, yet in more congested areas further up the field he has the capability of threading deft passes through defences for his forwards.
No doubt as he develops, he will come to specialise in one or other of these roles. It may well be that his physical characteristics and style suits playing in the less glamorous position in front of the rearguard – a role in which players often miss out on the headlines that they deserve.
Those days, however, are a long way off for this young Scot. He may be prodigiously talented, but for the time being he is just that. Other players have developed at Rangers with similar promise, with the most notable recent example John Fleck, only to fail to make the grade.
Gilmour has the talent to make it to the top, now he needs to prove that he has the mentality and work ethic - especially at Chelsea.