By Alex Stevens
Chelsea are close to signing Rangers wonderkid Billy Gilmour, according to a report.
The Sun claim the Premier League giants are on the verge of prising the highly rated young playmaker from the Scottish big hitters.
It is said that Chelsea want to sign the attacking midfielder from the Scottish Premiership outfit, who is widely tipped to develop into a top-class player, and are “close to a deal”.
It appears that Rangers manager Mark Warburton’s public pleas for Gilmour to ignore the attention from Premier League clubs and develop his game at Ibrox have fallen on deaf ears.
Gilmour has earned rave reviews for his performances in age-group football and has been linked with a move to a string of elite clubs, with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Barcelona all keeping close tabs on him.
Chelsea have signed some of the world’s top young talent over the last decade but most end up being loaned back out or sold on for a profit rather than break into the club’s first team.
Warburton has previously warned Gilmour of the perils of joining a Premier League big gun and then rotting in their reserves until his early 20s.
“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.”
Rangers are aiming to maintain their grip on second place in the Scottish Premiership in the second half of the season.
They beat Motherwell 2-0 in the league on Saturday, thanks to goals from Kenny Miller and new loan signing Emerson Hyndman.
Warburton’s side are a distant 19 points adrift of runaway leaders Celtic, who have remarkably won 20 of their 21 league matches of the campaign.
In other Rangers transfer news, a senior player is set to quit within 48 hours in a major bombshell.