Premier League leaders Chelsea have won the race to sign highly-rated teenage midfielder Billy Gilmour from Rangers. The Scottish club confirmed on Tuesday (9 May) that an agreement had been struck for their 15-year-old playmaker, who has attracted attention from the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
Scotland youth international Gilmour, not eligible to sign a first professional contract until his 16th birthday on 11 June, trained with Rangers’ first team earlier this season and came close to being included by former caretaker manager Graeme Murty in the senior matchday squad for a 6-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final victory over Hamilton Academical in March.
Managing director Stewart Robertson later admitted that a deal had been reached with Chelsea to ensure Rangers would receive more than a paltry compensation fee in the event that Gilmour did decide to leave, but stressed they would rather not get the money and instead see the player stay and go on to have a great career at Ibrox.
Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha met with Gilmour’s parents shortly after his appointment as part of an attempt to keep him at the club, yet those appeals – in addition to warnings from Scottish Football Association (SFA) performance director Malky Mackay regarding the potential lack of opportunities that could arise from being “tucked into an academy with 20 other international class teenagers” – were ultimately unsuccessful.
“The club’s preference would have been for Billy to stay at Rangers but when he made clear his desire to move to the Premier League it was important that we maximised the commercial value for him,” Rangers said in an official statement to confirm Gilmour’s imminent departure. “We believe we have done this.”
While the exact financial details of the deal remain undisclosed, Rangers insist the initial fee and performance-based add-ons are both “significant” in value. Reports from Goal in March suggested that the signing would set Chelsea back around £600,000 ($776,117).
“The agreement will provide Rangers with a significant sum for a young player who has yet to play first-team football, and further significant amounts could be due based on milestones being reached,” the Gers continued. “We are pleased with this outcome and believe this deal represents good value for Rangers.
“That he was sought after by many Premiership clubs, and indeed a number of the largest clubs in Europe, further demonstrates the quality of player now being produced by the academy. Everyone at Rangers wishes Billy well for his future.”