IT was little surprise that Billy Gilmour should become the subject of a scramble when it became clear that Chelsea were prepared to allow him to leave on loan this summer to aid his development.

Wolves were one team interested in such a deal. Southampton had been suitors in the past and Newcastle would have taken the Scot on loan in January only for Thomas Tuchel – just through the door as Frank Lampard’s successor – to sit the young man down for a chat that ultimately convinced him to stay.

Gilmour made just five appearances under the German over the next five months as he entrusted Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic with the holding midfield job, whereupon it was agreed by all concerned that a year honing his craft at a lower-level Premier League club could be just what the doctor ordered.

In the end, Norwich City were selected as the best fit to further Gilmour’s development. They had agreed the framework of a deal even before Scotland faced England at Wembley and the diminutive midfielder turned in a master-class in poise, awareness and control in the middle of the park. Daniel Farke, the Norwich manager, must have been licking his lips as he watched that performance.

Against Liverpool, though, it was an altogether tougher shift that Gilmour was asked to put in and he endured a tough evening.

Jurgen Klopp had showered the 20-year-old with effusive praise in his Friday press conference. The garrulous German is well placed to make the judgment since he possesses Scotland’s best player of this era in Andy Robertson but there might just have been an element of pre-match kidology at work as he described Gilmour as “one of the best talents to emerge from Scotland in the past 50 years”. He might well prove to be but on this evidence there is still some way to go.

But that’s where Norwich are supposed to come in, and in particular Farke, who did such sterling work with Tottenham’s own promising young deep-lying midfielder Oliver Skipp. Farke and Tuchel crossed paths at Borussia Dortmund and while not said to be bosom buddies, the Chelsea head coach has ideas about the game that align closely with those of his compatriot.

From the vantage point of the crow’s nest, Gilmour looks as if he has fleshed out. Certainly, he is no longer quite so immediately recognisable from his previous spindly physique. He gave the ball away with his very first touch – a rare sight admittedly – but his second straight afterwards was a simple ball to the right back Max Aarons. Thereafter he settled into his stride, looking for quick balls to the flanks as his frequent out-ball of choice.

From one first-time lay-off, Norwich broke with promise but Milot Rashica, the Bosnian wide man, was wasteful with his cross as Teemu Pukki lurked inside the penalty area.

Soon after Liverpool took the lead but there was little Gilmour could do to prevent the goal. Not least because there was a large dollop of good fortune attached to it as Mo Salah’s heavy touch deflected straight into the path of Diogo Jota who shot through Tim Krul’s body to give the visitors a 26th-minute lead. A finger, though, could possibly have been pointed at Grant Hanley, Gilmour’s Scotland international team-mate, who attempted to step in and nick possession but merely cleared the way for Jota’s route to goal.

Norwich might have felt aggrieved at a tangle between Virgil van Dijk and Teemu Pukki that ended with the Finland striker collapsing in a heap but it would have been harsh had the goal been disallowed for what looked a fairly innocuous collision.

At Wembley, Gilmour had helped elevate a team that was inferior to their English opponents but while there were flashes of his undeniable class this felt as if it was an altogether more difficult task. Then again, Liverpool performed in a manner that they appeared incapable of for long chunks of last season. Perhaps mindful that Gilmour won the man-of-the-match award the last time his Liverpool side faced the Scot in an FA Cup fifth round match against Chelsea in March last year, he stationed Jota in and around his sphere of influence – 20-35 yards from his own goal – on each occasion that Norwich attempted to formulate an attack.

As Liverpool turned the screw after the break, it felt inevitable that they would score again. When James Milner fed Roberto Firmino who advanced into Norwich territory and in turn squared to Sadio Mane, Gilmour seemed slow to react to the Senegal forward’s presence. While his shot was blocked, Salah reacted with superhero speed to knock the ball across goal for Firmino to make it 2-0. If you were to be harsh, Gilmour appeared to be ball-watching as the Brazilian filtered into a position around the penalty spot before slotting home.

A lashed third goal by Salah capped a difficult Norwich debut for Gilmour and hinted that it might be another long-haul of a season for the Canaries, who had more defeats (27) than goals scored (26) on their last visit to the top-flight two seasons ago. That said, this was a Liverpool side that looked much more like the team that won the Premier League title in that same campaign.