Young Billy Gilmour, now fully recovered from his offseason knee surgery, made his first start since Project Restart as Chelsea drew 1-1 with an enthusiastic Krasnodar side at Stamford Bridge last night.
The result aside, it was a decent enough game from the Blues, highlighted by the two 19-year-olds, Gilmour and Tino Anjorin. But while Anjorin is set to remain on the fringes of the first-team for now (training mostly, and the occasional appearance), bigger things are expected from Gilmour already. He already did the fringe thing last season, and did it ever so well, so now it’s time to take the new (baby) step forward — which, in this case, does not mean a loan (which has been rumored a bit lately).
That’s precisely what Lampard was hinting at in his post-match comments, talking about finding the proper pathway for the kid for the rest of the season.
“I thought Billy was outstanding. The way he played today and how he trains, I see him growing with us. He’s going to be a Chelsea player so it’s just about making sure the pathway is right for him.
“He made that pathway right last season and then got injured at the wrong time but playing like he did today, he’s got a lot to offer us.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Gilmour was deployed as one of the two “No.8s” in the three-man midfield, though most see his primary role as the backup to N’Golo Kanté at the base of the triangle instead. But Gilmour’s versatility means that he can do both, unlike (or least much better than), say, Jorginho, who’s unlikely to ever play the more dynamic advanced roles.
Gilmour proving to everyone here that he can absolutely play as an 8. For some reason there was a discussion about that earlier this year.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) December 8, 2020
The first-choice midfield for Lampard at the moment is quite clearly Kanté, Mason Mount, and Mateo Kovačić — with Kai Havertz searching for form, plus possibly needed on the wing — which should give Gilmour plenty of opportunities in the weeks and months ahead.
That sounds like the right pathway for him, and for us.