It looks inevitable that anything but promotion for Middlesbrough this season would lead to the departure of Ben Gibson from Riverside Stadium, with West Ham, Everton and Leicester just three of the clubs to have most recently been linked with a move for the central defender.
Sky Sports say that the Premier League trio are all monitoring the situation as it seems unlikely that Gibson will remain for a second season of Championship football, despite having played every minute of league action for Tony Pulis’ side this campaign.
Gibson is valued at £20 million, which could be a bargain in the long-term, and has already proven himself in the top flight as one of the stand out performers for his boyhood club last season as they were relegated.
In the Championship, he has maintained that high level of quality but has not returned to the England squad after receiving his first call-up from Gareth Southgate last year.
With so many options to choose from if Gibson is to move this summer, West Ham would be the best choice. The Irons are desperately lacking in quality in defence and Gibson would walk straight into their starting line-up.
Some may argue that it would also be the case at Everton, potentially forming part of a new look defensive partnership with Michael Keane. However, Keane’s move highlights the dangers of such a move, with the former Burnley man struggling under pressure with little experience, something that Gibson has at such a high level too and it is therefore hard to see both lining up together regularly.
By playing alongside the likes of Pablo Zabaleta and Angelo Ogbonna, Gibson could take his career to the next level whilst still maintaining a leading role.
With the right additions into the West Ham side, fans may even not be far off the truth to argue that they are not far off competing with Everton, and Gibson could well be one of those much needed signings.