By Alex Stevens
Malky Mackay has strongly suggested that Billy Gilmour should shun the advances of Chelsea and stay at Rangers.
The Scottish giants have reportedly been making last-ditch attempts this week to convince the young playmaker, 15, to remain at Ibrox amid reports that he is on the verge of signing for Chelsea.
New manager Pedro Caixinha has admitted he has personally held talks with the teenager to convince him that he would be better off learning his trade at Rangers.
New Scottish Football Association performance director Mackay, a former manager of Wigan, Cardiff and Watford, insists he never gets involved in club transfers.
But he has warned Gilmour of the perils of getting lost in a big-club academy where he would be competing with so many other outstanding young talents.
“Billy can have his pick in the summer and I had a conversation with his dad,” Mackay told the Mail. “I was asked to give him my experience as a player and coach in the past.
“But it’s about the pathway — the quicker you can test yourself against men, the better. To be tucked into an academy with 20 other international-class teenagers, what chance are you going to get?”
Mackay compared Gilmour’s situation to that of Ashley Young, who rejected big-club advances when he was learning his trade at Watford and eventually secured a £9million transfer to Aston Villa before joining Manchester United for £17million.
“At Watford, Ashley Young could have left at a young age but didn’t — he opted to stay,” Mackay added to the Mail.
“Just three years later, Aston Villa came back to buy him for £9million before he moved to Manchester United.
“That was opposed to him going into a youth team set-up with 25 other reserves, 25 out on loan and 25 first-team players. He’d have had to go through that just to get a foot on the ladder.”
In addition to Chelsea, other premier European clubs, including Manchester United, Arsenal and Barcelona, are keeping close tabs Gilmour, who is rated as one of the outstanding talents produced by Scottish football in the last 20 years.
Football Insider verdict:
Mackay is right. Gilmour has only a slim chance of making it as a first teamer at the club. History tells us that the vast number of top young talents produced or signed by the Premier League giants during the Roman Abramovich era either get lost in the reserves or end up carving out a career away from Stamford Bridge. That is not to say Gilmour can’t develop his game in the Chelsea academy, or go on to become a top-level player, but the chances of him doing so for the senior side are remote, to say the least. These are wise words from the SFA performance director, and Gilmour should take heed of them.
In other Rangers transfer news, Caixinha has lined up his first four signings, with deals done for three of them.