By Alex Stevens
Mark Warburton has urged Rangers wonderkid Billy Gilmour to stay at the club for the next four years and become a superstar.
Premier League leaders Chelsea have been strongly linked with a swoop for the 15-year-old Scotland starlet, who has caught their attention with his displays in age-group football.
The Scottish Sun report that Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Barcelona also scouted the teen sensation during the recent Victory Shield, which pits the best of the home nations’ youth talent against one another.
But Warburton has warned Gilmour of the perils of joining a Premier League big gun and then rotting in their reserves until his early 20s.
The Rangers manager is convinced that the Ibrox sensation would be better served by developing at Rangers, where he would be pitted into first-team football at an earlier age and given the chance to hone his game against senior professionals.
“I like to think we can keep him here, develop him and he can play in the first team,” said Warburton, as quoted by the Scottish Sun. “If then, in three, four years’ time he gets a move, good luck to him.
“Billy is a talented player and I’m sure many clubs are looking at him. Big clubs have vast scouting networks covering that age group and you can’t compete financially. If the boy wants to go, all the club can do is seek the best deal.
“But right now, he is a Rangers player and 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.
“What a talent you have to be to get into a top-six Premier League team. I don’t know the average age, probably Spurs aside, of boys making their Premier League debuts. Maybe 22, 23? It is a huge ask.”
Rangers travel to Hamilton in the Scottish Premiership on Friday night aiming to narrow the gap on runaway leaders Celtic.
Brendan Rodgers’ side are 11 points clear of second-placed Rangers and also have two matches in hand.
In other Rangers transfer news, Warburton is locked in a transfer riddle as he may be forced to sell a Rangers ace in January to fund signings.