CHELSEA fans are bracing themselves for Billy Gilmour’s imminent short-term exit from the club.
The Blues favourite is set to join Norwich in the coming days in the pursuit of regular first-team football.
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Gilmour’s loan move to Norwich will leave Chelsea needing to fill his voidCredit: Getty
20-year-old Gilmour’s departure leaves a hole in Thomas Tuchel’s midfield that needs filling.
But supporters need not despair as Blues fan Simon Philips has provided six alternatives that can fill the Scottish prodigy’s void.
The list includes Declan Rice, Saul Niguez and forgotten loan star Tiemoue Bakayoko.
How Chelsea could replace Billy Gilmour
Gilmour shone in Scotland’s group stage game at Euro 2020, and could’ve gone on to light up the tournament.
But his dreams were dashed when he tested positive for Covid-19 and Scotland were knocked out before he recovered.
But despite his Euro heart-ache this summer is still expected to be the one that propels him to mega-stardom.
Gilmour’s proposed move to the Canaries will see him get the minutes on the pitch that wouldn’t be possible at Stamford Bridge.
Although it’s a great move for him, the Blues will be left with N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, and Mateo Kovacic in the centre.
The experienced trio have a long history of injury and will also need a rest at times with the torrent of games to play next season.
So, who could replace Gilmour?
THE West Ham star has been linked with a move to Chelsea all summer.
Tuchel has reportedly made England’s rock a priority on his list of transfer targets.
The 22-year-old could fit the bill as he’s a traditional defensive midfielder which is something the Blues are missing.
Kante is more of a box-to-box player, and Jorginho is a deep-lying play maker.
Rice is a former Chelsea youth player and would surely jump at the chance of coming back.
But this maybe an expensive coup for the Champions League winners to pull off as the Hammers have slapped a £70million price tag on him.
Unless Rice, who’s contract at London Stadium ends in 2024, forces a move with a transfer request, or by putting a word in the ear of the owners.
His potential move to West London echoes that of Chelsea’s pursuit of Ben Chilwell who they signed for £50m from Leicester City last year, so it can be done.
They’ll also be boosted by the news that Rice has rejected two contract offers from the Hammers recently.
Rice could be the man to replace Gilmour after he turned down two contract offers from the HammersCredit: Rex
MONACO’S £34m rated star Thcouameni, dubbed the Ligue 1 side’s midfield ‘monster’, would be a cheaper but just as good option as Rice.
He burst through the ranks at Monaco last season, starting 36 times, and getting two goals along the way.
The downside is Rice is Premier League proven and has more experience than the 21-year-old Frenchman.
But he’s been given the seal of approval by ex-Blues ace Cesc Fabregas which should be enough to excite Chelsea’s faithful.
Scouts from across the globe have also been keeping tabs on him so Tuchel could face a battle to bring him to London.
Tchouameni has been named the ‘monster’ for his performances at MonacoCredit: Getty
NIGUEZ isn’t a first choice signing for Chelsea but is certainly one to keep an eye on.
The versatile midfielder doesn’t boast the same defensive strengths as the others mentioned but is an asset nonetheless.
He was a major part of Atletico’s LaLiga winning team playing across the midfield and ending the season with 41 appearances.
Despite his versatility, the Spaniard, 26, is recognised as one of the best deep-lying defensive midfielders.
Niguez’s dominant displays have caught the eye of Tuchel who will have to stump up £68m for his services.
And Atletico are open to selling their midfield star due to financial issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
So I expect Chelsea to be keeping a close eye on his situation and transfer fee.
Atletico could be open to selling Niguez due to financial issuesCredit: Getty
HOW about one of our own home-grown players?
Loftus-Cheek rose up the youth ranks at the club and has always possessed massive potential.
But he was never the same after sustaining a a major injury and his career’s been on the decline ever since.
The 25-year-old endured a torrid time at relegation-doomed Fulham last season and could only muster one goal.
But don’t write him off just yet as Tuchel is reportedly keen to see what he has to offer in pre-season training.
Maybe he’ll come back in and takes the vacant spot left by Gilmour?
I certainly wouldn’t bet against it.
Loftus-Cheek’s career plummeted after he suffered a major injury at ChelseaCredit: Eddie Keogh Telegraph Media Group
IMAGINE this for a comeback? What a turn-around it would be for the 26-year-old to make his Blues return.
He hardly got any playing time at Stamford Bridge and has spent the last few seasons on loan since joining for £40million from Monaco in 2017.
For me, I think this only goes one way, I think he goes to AC Milan on a permanent move and ends his nightmare at the club.
But with Tuchel ready to give all players a clean slate at the club, maybe the Frenchman is in with a chance.
Bakayoko has quickly been forgotten at Stamford Bridge and has spent the last few seasons on loanCredit: Getty
FINALLY, a young but very promising talent in Conor Gallagher is also expected to re-join Chelsea’s pre-season next week.
And perhaps he does enough to show Tuchel that he is good enough to take Gilmour’s spot?
The 21-year-old had a successful stint on loan at West Brom last season, making 32 appearances for the club.
But I’m not sure he yet has the talent to come into our squad and be a regular for us.
And the English youngster has already made it clear that he’s not willing to be a bench warmer next season so we’ll have to see what the future holds for him.
Gallagher wants first-team football at the Bridge and is open to a move if not possibleCredit: PA
Read more of Philip’s views on his Twitter account.
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