Middlesbrough may be enduring a disappointing campaign in the Premier League, but that hasn’t prevented Ben Gibson from drawing the interest of some of the country’s biggest clubs.
So, with Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea having all shown serious interest in the Boro centre-back, the Ladbrokes News team look at what Gibson could and should do in this summer’s transfer window.
As a defender, there are few better coaches to work under than Antonio Conte. Not only did he lead Juventus to three successive Serie A titles between 2012 and 2014, but the Old Lady shipped fewer than 25 goals in every season.
That kind of defensive strength is now evident in his Chelsea side, so there’s little doubt Gibson would continue to grow and gain title-winning experience at Stamford Bridge…if he were to get the game-time.
With the Blues consistently playing a back three, there’s limited space in the Chelsea backline – and he’d have to dispel the likes of David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta and Kurt Zouma to get a regular spot in the first-team.
That isn’t impossible, but even Gibson’s biggest fans would admit that it’s a big ask.
Should he join? – Maybe
It’s no secret that Liverpool are crying out for a bit of defensive steel right now. The Reds have the worst defensive record in the Prem’s top seven. And since the start of 2017, they’ve managed just one clean sheet in 15 games in all competitions. Oh, and it came against League Two Plymouth Argyle.
So there’s little doubt he’d quickly get into Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI. The main issue, though, is whether or not the Merseyside outfit can give Gibson the chance to play on the biggest stage – an opportunity the Nunthorpe-born defender would surely relish.
Having only played Champions League football in one of the last seven seasons, they’re by no means guaranteed of doing so next term. Failure to do so again would surely mean Gibson could – and should – look elsewhere.
And even if the Reds do make the top four, whether Jurgen Klopp is the man to develop a young defensive talent is – at the very least – debatable.
Should he join? – No
Slowly but surely, Pep Guardiola’s Citizens side are grinding into gear. 15 points from their last seven league games have seen the Etihad outfit rise up to third place, but their defensive issues still need addressing.
Guardiola has inherited an ageing backline, with the likes of Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna and Aleksandar Kolarov all past their best, while Vincent Kompany’s continued injury problems mean he’s unlikely to become a regular fixture again.
That means there would almost certainly be space for the versatile Gibson – most often used at centre-back, but also comfortable slotting in at left-back. And his ability to impress on the flanks or in the middle of defence means he’d be a great addition for the Citizens.
With a seventh successive season of Champions League football looking likely for next term, the likelihood of guaranteed first-team football and the opportunity to develop under Pep Guardiola, we reckon Man City should be Gibson’s next destination.
Should he join? – Yes
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing