Liverpool have now emerged as the shocking favourites to land Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson as reports claim that the Reds have turned their interest to the now-Championship defender after facing a stumbling block in their long-term pursuit of Virgil van Dijk. The 24-year-old has been one of the revelations last season and is a top target for many Premier League clubs now, with a cheap £20m price tag.
Liverpool managed to squeeze into the top four on the last day of the season as they overcame a Middlesbrough challenge at Anfield. Despite being the stronger side on paper, Jurgen Klopp’s men needed an urgent second half display and a huge favour from the referee to get the three points against an adamant Boro side that had Gibson in it.
Klopp has faced tremendous criticism last season for his refusal to strengthen the back line that was seen crumbling time and again against the weakest of sides in the league. Liverpool conceded 42 goals in one of their better seasons for them that saw the side firing on all cylinders right from the beginning. Klopp’s decision to not play Mamadou Sakho didn’t go well with the fans too. And honestly, one cannot win the league with Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan in the central defence.
However, their bid for Van Dijk did indicate that the Merseyside club is willing to spend big this summer and they can go to a large extent in the race to land Gibson and may even win it. Gibson has been a regular for the Boro side last season, first under Aitor Karanka and then Steven Agnew, which reflects his maturity at a young age.
Despite being one of the best defensive sides in the league, Boro couldn’t hold onto the rope in the ending weeks of the season. They ended up conceding 53 goals in all games, which is lesser than the likes of Watford, Burnley, Swansea City, Crystal Palace, West Ham United, Leicester City and more, who survived the relegation.
And it is this disciplined defending that has brought Gibson to the fore. He has managed to net only once and assist the same number of times in all competitions. At 185cm, he is quite the centre-back one would want on the side. He has the intelligent game reading abilities and physicality to deal with the rigours of the game in England.
A youth product of Middlesbrough, Gibson’s progress has mostly hinged on his loan stints with sides like Plymouth, York City and Tranmere Rovers. However, since breaking to the side in 2013, he has been an established player. The centre-half can also play as a left-back and now with Boro relegated, he would surely want a move up. But is he the right man for Liverpool?
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