Along with Michael Keane, another Englishman is set for a big move amidst interest from several top Premier League outfits. Middlesbrough centre-back Ben Gibson has emerged as a potential transfer target of Pep Guardiola as he is in a desperate search to strengthen his defence.
Gibson, 24, came through the youth ranks of Middlesbrough and became a regular since their 2013-14 Championship campaign. Boro were close to a promotion repeatedly and finally managed to do so last year when they finished second and earned a direct promotion to the top tier of English football following their relegation on the last day of the 2008-09 campaign seven years ago.
Despite a decent start, Boro lacked consistency and are now 19th in the league that resulted in a sacking of their manager Aitor Karanka. With relegation looming large, Boro now have an uphill task of turning around their season.
However, defender Ben Gibson has been their most influential performer who has drawn the attention of several big guns of Premier League with his solid defensive displays. His good work earned him his first call-up to the England national team by the former Middlesbrough and current Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate, replacing injured Chris Smalling for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.
If reports are believed to be true, the 6 ft 1 in tall Englishman is being monitored by Pep Guardiola who is looking for proper reinforcements for his back-line. Pep was impressed with his recent performance in Boro’s 0-2 home defeat against City where he saved his side from further humiliation by pulling off stunning blocks and crucial tackles. Gibson’s major strength is holding on to the ball and also has a great sense of passing. A little weak aerially, however, Ben Gibson is a ball-playing defender who suits Pep’s style of football.
Manchester City brought in highly-rated Englishman John Stones from Everton for £50m. He struggled to settle in and Vincent Kompany’s ongoing injury concerns forced Pep to play left-back Aleksander Kolarov in a makeshift centre-back role alongside Nicolas Otamendi. However, Stones improved lately and regained his place in the starting lineup. But City still lacks defensive depth and Ben Gibson is a huge prospect who can be a future superstar with proper guidance.
Boro, on the other hand, are desperate not to lose their best resource. With relegation looming large, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to keep hold of him and a fee around £25 million will be demanded if the player forces a move out in order to achieve bigger dreams.
Meanwhile, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, too, have reportedly shown interest in the centre-back. Chelsea have extensively scouted him throughout the campaign. Summer is not far away and we can expect an absorbing transfer battle among Premier League’s top six rivals for Ben Watson.