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Burnley v Middlesbrough  - Premier League

Can This Defensive Target Finally Provide Stability To Everton’s Leaky Backline?

Everton have been linked with a move for Middlesbrough central defender Ben Gibson with a report stating that the Toffees are targeting the player after suggestions that they could miss out on their main target Virgil Van Dijk.

The Southampton centre-half has been on the radar of the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea and in the face of competition from the big hitters, it is unlikely that Ronald Koeman can have a reunion with his former protégé.

Everton have Ashley Williams, Phil Jagielka and Funes Mori as the 3 established defenders in their ranks. There were strong rumours of Jagielka leaving in the summer and although it did not materialise, he is in his twilight at the Goodison Park. At 34 years of age, he is having difficulty in coping up with the pace of the league.

Ronald Koeman has looked assured in his new surroundings and will be looking to strengthen his squad to build on his start. He has apparently been given the green signal by the new owner to make signings and a central defender is high on his shopping list. After having sold John Stones, who was supposed to be the next big thing at Everton, he has a void to fill and has the money. Williams can be a permanent fixture at centre-half for the foreseeable future and although he hasn’t had the same effect he had at Swansea City, the last few weeks has seen a better version of him.

ben-gibson-1-getty

Coming to their target Ben Gibson, the Englishman has been a mainstay for Middlesbrough this season. He has been preferred to Ayala and has admirably partnered loanee Calum Chambers till now. Although Boro aren’t in the most comfortable position in the league now, their defensive organisation and structure have understandably earned praise.

Gibson has adjusted well to the Premier League and the step up hasn’t been the most difficult. The 23-year-old has been in inspired form for Middlesbrough, in the heart of one of the league’s most consistent defences. If the deal goes through, he will have a lot of similarity with the signing of the man he will eventually succeed- Jagielka.

Both are uncapped English defenders in their first season higher than Championship level, performing above expectations in a newly promoted side that relies heavily on their consistency and leadership.

His position and his intelligence have helped him to adjust well in the hectic and the fast nature of the top flight. He has made 30 interceptions and cleared the ball 119 times and has made 20 blocks. These are impressive statistics in his first season in the top flight and he has a goal to add to his CV.

Everton will be a good side for him to move to and at 23 years of age, has his best days ahead of him.

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