Charlie Gilmour left Arsenal on a free transfer in the summer of 2019, joining Norwich City before moving on loan to Dutch second-division side Telstar, but how is he getting on now?

ENFIELD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Charlie Gilmour of Arsenal scores their second goal during the Premier League 2 game between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal on October 23, 2017 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)
ENFIELD, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 23: Charlie Gilmour of Arsenal scores their second goal during the Premier League 2 game between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal on October 23, 2017 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Arsenal handed Charlie Gilmour a professional contract in the summer of 2016.

In a statement on the official website, the club said “Creative midfielder Charlie Gilmour has signed his first professional contract with the club.

“The 17-year-old made a strong start to life as an Arsenal scholar after graduating from Hale End in the summer of 2015.”

Arsenal spotted Charlie as a kid and invited him to a trial at Hale End when he was just six years old. The midfielder said the opportunity his overwhelming for him at the time.

“I was speechless because I hadn’t even thought about football in a serious way like that. I was just playing for fun. I went along to train and pretty soon after I was signed.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. I was so happy because I am an Arsenal fan and I’ve been with my club ever since.

“Now I have a chance of achieving my dream and playing for the first-team. Plus I want to pay back my mum and dad for all the years of commitment and sacrifice.”

Gilmour signed as a scholar in 2015 and made his u18 debut in the 15/16, impressing with quick feet and a great eye for a pass.

He scored a penalty hattrick against Liverpool for the u18s, said the player he admired most was Santi Cazorla, and was named by Unai Emery alongside Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe, and Bukayo Saka as a player ‘coming through’.

Charlie Gilmour after signing for Norwich City (Photo via Canaries.co.uk)
Charlie Gilmour after signing for Norwich City (Photo via Canaries.co.uk)

When he left Arsenal for Norwich, Gilmour said the change was a good thing for him.

“It’s different, but in a positive way,” Gilmour told VoetbalZone. “I feel like I see the real world, with Arsenal you are in a kind of bubble.

“It’s good to step out of it, gain experience and play in a first-team. You hear stories from the other boys about the real world and you don’t believe that right away, but now I understand what it’s like.

That didn’t mean Gilmour didn’t take plenty of good experiences from his time in North London though.

“My debut in the first was the best moment of my career so far. I will always remember those games. Of course, it gives your self-confidence a boost, but I am someone who stays firmly on the ground.

“It’s interesting to see so much quality up close. You can see them on television, but only when you are on the field with them can you see how good they really are and what level you need to have to play at Arsenal or in the Premier League.

“You have to train with confidence, play your own game and try to make an impression if you get a chance.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 15: Charlie Gilmour of Arsenal controls the ball as Tariq Lamptey of Chelsea looks on during the Premier League 2 match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on April 15, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 15: Charlie Gilmour of Arsenal controls the ball as Tariq Lamptey of Chelsea looks on during the Premier League 2 match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on April 15, 2019, in London, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

As for why the young midfielder chose the Netherlands for his loan move from Norwich, he explained that he believed it was the best place for him to go and play his style of football.

“Many people in England advised me to go abroad and one of the options was the Netherlands. Teams try to play more football here and keep it up, even when things go wrong.

“I would like to have the ball on the floor because I feel that I am technically good enough to play that game. That is why I knew that the Netherlands would be the right place for me, football is attractive and teams always try to play football.

“It was a no brainer, frankly. I also knew the coach (Andries Jonker) from my time at Arsenal, so that is also an advantage. I didn’t know much about Telstar, I must confess.”

After a year on loan, Gilmour left Norwich ‘by mutual consent’. It was a bit of a strange situation, given Gilmour never really got a chance at Norwich. He joined them in the summer of 2019, but immediately went out on loan to SC Telstar.

The then-21-year-old did well in the Netherlands, making 25 appearances before the season ended early. He did pick up a major injury just before the pandemic hit, however.

There are obviously a number of factors that could have led to the early contract termination.

It could be related to the injury, or Norwich’s relegation, or a consequence of the pandemic’s impact on club finances. All we know for sure is that it left Gilmour searching for a new club.

Five months later, he found one, signing for St Johnstone in the SPL in February.

So far, he’s only played one minute for the Scottish side alongside eight bench appearances. The media close to the club are keen to stress, however, that we shouldn’t take his lack of minutes as a lack of faith in the player from the management.

“Charlie has incredible ability,” said St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson. “His touch and movement are good.

“He’s a big lad, he’s a box-to-box midfielder and has a great attitude – so all the attributes are there.

“It has just been a case of getting him up to speed because he was short of fitness when he arrived here.

“He’s suffered a bit from us being unable to get him games because of Covid and in another year we would have been able to get a proper look at him far earlier.

“But there have been no reserve matches and because of the size of squad we have, we can’t arrange bounce games.

“So it’s a bit similar to Guy Melamed when he came in, the opportunities to see what he can do are limited so it takes longer.

Charlie Gilmour during his spell on loan with SC Telstar (Photo via Canaries.co.uk)
Charlie Gilmour during his spell on loan with SC Telstar (Photo via Canaries.co.uk)

“It’s very similar and in terms of playing, he’s technically very good like Guy is.

“Charlie has been patient because he knew that would be the case when he arrived here,” he said.

“Hopefully we can get him games and part of games between now and the end of the season.

“We signed him with a view to bringing him along and looking towards next season. That was in the back of my mind.

“You always want young players coming through and getting ready for the first team,” said Davidson.

“The club has done that very well in recent years, whether that’s players who have come through the youths from a young age like Ali McCann or other ones like Liam Gordon who have been picked up from other clubs.

“At a club like St Johnstone it’s important to carry on that way because it gives us a chance to pick up good quality, work on developing them and then get the benefits.

“We wouldn’t be able to afford an Ali McCann so we have to find them ourselves.”

Gilmour’s contract runs in Scotland until the end of this season when he will no doubt be hopeful of signing an extension.

He turned 22 in February.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.