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West Bromwich Albion are still in hot pursuit of Middlesbrough’s excellent left-sided centre-back Ben Gibson. Tony Pulis seems very keen to get the England world cup hopeful into his side before the big kick-off and it’s easy to see why.
Unusually for a Premier League outfit with such an organised manager, the Baggies have a striking dearth of centre-halves at the club right now. Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley and new loan signing Ahmed Hegazy are the only recognised players at the club in this position.
On top of this, Evans has been playing some of the pre-season games in midfield and has apparently been enjoying his time further forward and would like to stay there. Whatever happens with the skipper though, the club need to bring in a top centre-back immediately or risk lowering their level next season.
Gibson is still only 24 years of age and has been steadily progressing on Teesside. Three seasons of Championship football saw him average 6.65, 6.79 and then 6.94 on Whoscored.com before last year, running up a total of 6.82 at Premier League level.
That last stat is excellent given his age, inexperience and the fact that he was playing for a relegated team. So it’s clear we can all expect even more from him, this time around. Some players perhaps should stay at Championship level for a while – we have mentioned this to be the case with Chris Wood – but it would be a crying shame if Gibson did this and a pure waste of his immense talent.
England has a whole need for Gibson in the Premier League as the country should be giving itself as many options as possible in a world cup year. So the hope is that the deal goes through very soon.
Given the money paid out for the likes of Michael Keane and John Stones in recent times, Boro may be hoping for a bumper payday here and that may stall the deal. West Brom have already bid a club record £21million for the defender and are considering submitting a higher bid since none of the three earlier bids have been accepted by Boro. However, coming from a Championship club often curbs that value slightly and I’d say the transfer should be within West Brom’s compass.
The disparity between centre-backs who are comfortable sitting on the right of the defensive pairing and those happier on the left is more striking in recent seasons where England are concerned. So Gibson will most probably carry a lot of expectation from Gareth Southgate going into this season. Moving to West Brom could be the best way for Gibson to fulfill Southgate’s expectations and surely, he’d be a wonderful signing for the Premier League side.