Manchester City switch their attentions to Ben Gibson - is he worth pursuing?
Manchester City want to add a centre back to their squad before the end of the current transfer window and the latest name being linked is Middlesbrough captain Ben Gibson. The Independent report that Pep Guardiola is ready to give up in his pursuit of Jonny Evans and turn to the young Englishman instead.
The Citizens view Gibson as the best alternative to Evans as he is a homegrown player and has Premier League experience. Although he was part of a relegated team last season, Middlesbrough had an impressive defence and finished tenth best in terms of goals conceded. The 24-year-old was integral to that and even earned an England call-up as a result of his form.
After having a bid turned down for Evans, City have decided that the Northern Irish international could cost too much, as the fee could go as high as £30 million. Despite Boro wanting to keep their captain, they are a Championship club now and they would have to sell if a decent offer was submitted. The lack the negotiating position that West Brom have as a Premier League club.
What would he bring to the Etihad Stadium?
City want a homegrown defender to add competition to their squad and Gibson fits the bill. As a naturally left-footed centre back, he is an appealing option as there are few of them playing at the highest level. Guardiola demands that every one of his players is comfortable on the ball and the 24-year-old showed that he was during his one season in the top-flight as he completed 84.6% of his passes. He didn’t look out of his depth and that is why several Premier League clubs have registered an interest in him during this summer.
Last season, it was his positioning that was most impressive as he understood his role and knows his limitations as a player. He doesn’t have blistering pace, but he has enough to recover if he does make a mistake. Gibson would be a good character to have around the City dressing room as well, due to his leadership skills. Unlike John Stones, he would be unlikely to be overawed by the step and that is a good character trait to have. At the age of 24, he will improve and it would be exciting for him to make the step up now to work with a coach like Guardiola.
How likely is a move?
During recent weeks, it has become evident that Manchester City want to sign a new centre back. Eliaquim Mangala is on the fringes of the team and that shows their lack of depth in the position, especially if they persist with a three-man defence. The Frenchman isn’t rated by Guardiola and it would be a concern if he had to play a significant role this season.
Middlesbrough don’t want to sell their captain, but it might be out of their hands as he will want to return to the Premier League. There is a good chance that he could be a part of the World Cup squad this summer, but he would have to be playing in the top-flight.