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Is Billy Gilmour ready to take over from Jorginho next season?

Billy Gilmour, or “Goatmour” as the Chelsea fans on Twitter have nicknamed him, is the latest talented academy player to be given a cha...

Billy Gilmour, or “Goatmour” as the Chelsea fans on Twitter have nicknamed him, is the latest talented academy player to be given a chance by Lampard, despite it partially being related to our injuries and suspensions in the middle of the park. Lampard trusted the Scottish midfielder in arguably two of our most important games of the season against Liverpool and Everton in the FA Cup and the Premier League respectively. He delivered with aplomb, winning two consecutive MOTM awards against two teams we hadn’t beaten this season yet.

These weren’t his first appearances this season, as he featured against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup as well as coming on as a late substitute in our 2-2 draw against Sheffield United earlier on in the season. His talent was there to be seen in those games, but this was certainly the most defining period for him in Chelsea colours. In these two fixtures he showed a lot of his qualities, playing in the number six role, the role Jorginho has featured in for Chelsea this season. His ability to dictate the match from deep, coupled with technical ability to make accurate short and long passes with either foot makes him a great asset in midfield. His forward-thinking passes in between the lines of the opposition defense, awareness to wriggle out of tight situations, and his grit and defensive ability to put a tackle in or intercept passes despite his small stature is what is needed for that number six role Jorginho plays and there definitely is a future for him at Chelsea. 

Much has been said about his future, and his ability to play anywhere across the midfield. He could play either as a number six (defensive midfielder), deep-lying playmaker, box to box midfielder, or even in a more advanced role. And with his recent displays, a lot of people believe he is ready to make his mark and be a regular starter for Chelsea. A player that could be a casualty from that is Jorginho. The Italian’s story at Stamford Bridge has been a topsy-turvy one, but an inspiring one- from the man called “Sarri’s son” last season and booed at Stamford bridge- to the man the faithful now have a song about, which is all down to his mentality to work hard. This mentality and personality have also seen our manager make him our vice-captain for the season. Jorginho’s performances this season have been nothing short of impressive. He has been one of our best players this season, putting up important performances and scoring big goals, most of which were his aesthetic and eye-catching penalties. But in recent weeks, he has tailed off a bit, putting in some below-par performances, especially against Bayern Munich and Bournemouth, along with getting himself suspended from both the Champions League second leg and Premier league for three games.

Jorginho is a talented player on the ball. The best passer of the ball in the squad- the orchestrator of the team- so much so that our other midfielders look lost without him when he is not on the pitch. He is a fantastic reader of the game, which is displayed with his interceptions, and he is not afraid to put a tackle in and is willing to take a yellow card for the team. But his deficiencies lie on the physical side of the game, as he isn’t blessed with pace and power, (PNP as it is called nowadays) and it’s a big liability that gets him exposed now and then in the Premier League. This is the same case with Gilmour- he isn’t stronger than Jorginho, but he is faster and already looks like a grittier tackler and looks better equipped to take the mantle that Jorginho carries in the team, and at such a young age.

Gilmour might be very young, still just 18 years old, but he looks ready to play more games at this level, and there is a consensus among a lot of the fan base that he might be ready to take the reins from Jorginho in the middle of the park. Jorginho isn’t short of suitors, not with his ability. And top of the list is his former coach Maurizio Sarri who would quickly grasp at the opportunity to take him to Juventus, who firmly need a shakeup in midfield. He has been linked to Juventus because of that and if Juventus sense an opportunity, they will approach Chelsea for him the summer.

There is no doubt Gilmour can fill this role, but in my opinion, it might be a bit too early for him. A good example I want to highlight is Pep Guardiola’s handling of Phil Foden. Much has been made about the Spaniard manager’s handling of Foden, he has been training with the first team for at least two years now, with the likes of David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Bernado Silva and playing in cup games, but not featuring regularly in all competitions. Manchester City have stars already in the team, it won’t be easy for him, but Pep has managed to incorporate him so well in the team in these two years that he can start any game and no one will bat an eye, because he is so comfortable in the team. Why? Those bits of games, 10-minute cameos, 15 min cameos and playing with less pressure off his back made him comfortable in a Man City shirt. He is learning off all of them and becoming a better player and having minutes to show it, and even if he doesn’t play well, he won’t get overly critiqued because there are more experienced players that handle more responsibility. Something that the Chelsea youngsters have faced a lot this season, overboard criticism and borderline abuse. A lot of them have had to be in the firing line. It works well for some but not a lot of youngsters, of which the priority is to improve, and Gilmour has the chance to continue to improve under one of his mentors, Jorginho.

We cannot predict if Jorginho will leave, but if he does, Gilmour becomes a natural replacement. However, if he stays, then Gilmour could do with more time learning from Jorginho and less pressure on his young shoulders. It is quite evident that Gilmour still has a long time to reach his peak and fulfill his potential, and it is important for us to remain patient so that we can witness his brilliant style of play in a Chelsea kit and not elsewhere.

Written By - Mobolaji-Sanni Seun
Twitter - @SeunMobolaji

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