By George Overhill

25th Mar, 2023 | 9:15pm

Billy Gilmour may be the one that got away for Rangers but if Ross Wilson can rescue him from his Brighton nightmare he can be a major weapon in the battle with Celtic.

The Brighton midfielder left Ibrox after his 16th birthday back in 2017 and when he broke into the Chelsea first team three years ago under Frank Lampard he looked destined for stardom.

But the 21-year-old’s fortunes have deserted him in the years since and he is now a forgotten man at the Amex despite remaining a regular pick for Steve Clarke’s Scotland set up.

Former Gers captain Barry Ferguson wrote in the Daily Record on 23 March: “I’d love to see him back at Rangers but unfortunately I just don’t see it.

“Brighton got him for a bargain when they paid just over £8million to lure him from Stamford Bridge but I think you’d still be surprised by the kind of wages he’d be on and sadly I think that may scupper any hopes for an Ibrox return, even on loan.”

He’s right that Premier League wages likely make him an expensive proposition on paper, and the Light Blue’s well-documented lack of spending power surely makes an outright transfer tricky.

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But Gilmour was the most effected of the collateral damage when Todd Boehly took over at Stamford Bridge and took a shine to everything Brighton, and a Glasgow return could solve a messy situation.

The Sun reported on 10 September that the youngster only left West London for the South Coast in order to work with Graham Potter, having been convinced by the English manager despite not wanting to leave Chelsea on deadline day.

Just a week later on 8 September the former Seagulls boss then moved in the opposite direction, leaving Gilmour out in the cold under Roberto De Zerbi, for whom he has made only 10 appearances in all competitions this season, largely in late substitute cameos.

Clearly, not even an English Premier League side would happily throw £8million down the drain, but for world-record compensation Brighton would have been content to scrap the Gilmour-Potter project.

Brighton’s latest accounts revealed this week (22 October) that Chelsea paid a world-record £21.5million compensation to take Potter to London, as per a combination of Kieran Maguire and Nizaar Kinsella via Twitter.

Given that he has so far struggled in charge at Stamford Bridge, while De Zerbi has the Seagulls three points above the two-time Champions League winners and challenging for Europe, Tony Bloom and company will be feeling like they came out comfortably on top in those dealings financially and in practice.

The £8million spent on Gilmour is arguably a bargain fee anyway for the quality he demonstrated in back-to-back man of the match performances in his first two Chelsea appearances, but show how he has lost his way amid turmoil everywhere he has turned since.

But to net a record amount of cash to arguably upgrade at manager, the price of signing the young Scot was more than made up for so the Seagulls could be more open in letting Gilmour leave than they otherwise might be.

He is a spare part at Brighton, when he could be a leading light in this Rangers side under the tutelage of Michael Beale.

The Ibrox boss has got a lift from the invention of Nico Raskin and Todd Cantwell, but Gilmour could surpass both if he can get back on the path he was once on.

Blowing the entire transfer budget on the midfielder would be risky, but there has to be room for manoeuvre if Ross Wilson negotiates with Brighton.

Whether it be a loan with just a portion of the wages, a cheap deal with an affordable buy-back clause, or one with a hefty sell-on, it makes too much sense not to leave no stone unturned when it could benefit both sides of the deal.

Gilmour is proving little use at the Amex, when he could be key at Rangers, where he has history and even perhaps a sense of unfinished business.

If he came back to Glasgow and rediscovered his form he could be a key component as Beale plots to overturn Celtic next season, and at worst he would go back to Brighton as a more valuable asset at the end of the campaign.

Gilmour may be the unluckiest player around as Covid-19 interrupted his progress after bursting onto the scene in 2020, then a knee injury during Project Restart, before the inevitable managerial change at Chelsea put him back to square one under Thomas Tuchel once he was fit, and then the Potter bait-and-switch that left him in limbo at Brighton.

This could be the ideal chance for him to find an environment where he is valued, if Brighton are willing to see the bigger picture, and it is Wilson’s job to make them do so.

In other Rangers news, a furious row has developed as a result of clubs chasing a Gers ace.