Billy Gilmour made his sixth appearance and third start of the season today, which means he now has as many appearances as Jorginho since the start of December — and since making his comeback from offseason knee surgery. That should lend some weight to Lampard’s declaration that he doesn’t want Gilmour to leave on loan for the second half of the season. This isn’t just lip-service, as was in the case of Fikayo Tomori, now with AC Milan.
“In the short term for me, looking at things, he won’t be going out on loan. Of course, we’ll keep that slightly open until the end of the month but Billy is a Chelsea player and the level he showed today highlights why he is a Chelsea player in the middle of the park.”
Leaving the door slightly ajar could blow some of the ice cold wind (and snow!) seen around England in on the situation, but given Gilmour’s performance today, he surely has to stay (and play). Lampard agrees.
“Playing like he did today makes it very difficult [not to give him more minutes going forward] because I thought he was outstanding. His comfort on the ball, the way he moved it, his discipline, his personality was great. If he plays like he did today, it makes it very difficult for me not to give him a run. He trains that way too.
“With his youth and the injury he had, and with the difficult run we’ve been on in the last month, it’s been a case of me finding the right time to get Billy in. Today felt like the right time and he was brilliant.”
Lampard talked down the idea of a tactical shift being part of the solution Chelsea need right now, but Gilmour was deployed alongside (Captain!) Mason Mount in a double-pivot, and the two energetic youngsters with a combined age of 41 did a fine job in controlling the middle of the pitch. Granted, the opposition were not of Premier League quality, but Gilmour and Mount were better than them, which is the minimum expected outcome that would’ve been needed for this partnership to see further action in bigger games ... maybe.
“Billy Gilmour comes in and I thought he was outstanding, Mason Mount was captain and that’s another part of his progression. [...] I thought the two of them were great. Their movement of the ball, their discipline as a two, which is very different from a three, means that it’s something we can look at going forward.
“We also wanted to focus on the front two, the nine and the ten, to make sure they come in and give us something and to make sure we don’t lose something in midfield. So it was a nice step. It’s something we can look at going forward.
“I’m forever considering the attributes of the players within the team and system. This is the process of this year. With new players and younger players, today was right for us. Is that a sure way forward? Who knows, but it was great to see the options it brought us.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Gilmour seems like the natural backup to N’Golo Kanté, be that in a midfield-two as today or at the base of a midfield-three as we had seen before. Gilmour’s also versatile enough to play as a No.8 — all qualities that should serve him well in search of minutes going forward this season and beyond.
Chelsea’s central midfield options are stacked, at least on paper, with Kanté, Kovačić (last year’s Player of the Year), personality-king Jorginho, and now Mount as well. But hopefully Gilmour indeed gets to stay, and play. He’s not only one for the future, but for the present as well!