It's looking like Everton are about to capture one of the biggest talents in English youth football by signing Lewis Gibson, from Newcastle United's youth squad. The central defender turns seventeen in a few days and has already established himself in the England Under-17 squad.
Everton were first linked with the player soon after the end of the last season, the teenager had been attracting plenty of attention with Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Celtic are all reportedly in the running for the defender too. The left-sided defender still has one year left on his current contract.
This latest signing as reported by the Daily Mail will bring to five the number of additions that David Unsworth will have to work with at the Under-23 level this season. Defender Nathangelo Markelo, striker Boris Mathis, winger Josh Bowler have all been signed this summer with forward Anton Donkor coming back on another loan spell.
Everton's renewed commitment to the youth squad under Farhad Moshiri's ownership has been paying off already, with David Unsworth's Under-23 squad winning the Premier League 2 title this just-ended season.
For Newcastle meanwhile, this will prove to be a big blow to their youth squad aspirations. The club has been trying to build the Academy set up in the last few months, but a player of Gibson's abilities leaving could prove discouraging.
Toon publication 'The Mag' decried the policies under previous managers that suppressed the growth of the youth sides, saying -
The youth set-up at Newcastle has been a massive disappointment down the years and it can’t all have been down to the quality of player at their disposal.
Fans have long expressed concern at the level of coaching below first team level and the inability to develop players, to improve them to a level where they can compete for the first team.
This hasn’t been helped by managers such as Alan Pardew, who failed to give real opportunities to younger players, tending only to give them games in the cup competitions which he and Mike Ashley were so keen to get out of at the earliest opportunity.
Rafa Benitez has been landed with an entire club to sort out from top to bottom and years and years of neglect were never going to be sorted overnight. So you can sympathise with him going almost entirely for experienced players in this season’s vital quest for Premier League football at the earliest opportunity.
Gibson was born in the Newcastle area and he joined his brother Liam in the Newcastle youth setup. The younger sibling is yet to make an appearance for the senior side, featuring in 12 games for the Under-18 side and twice for the Under-23 team. He also has sixteen England Under-17 caps, scoring twice in the process.
A left-footed defender, he featured in this summer's European Under-17 Championship where England lost on penalties to Spain in the final. At Everton he will be competing for a spot with Callum Connolly and Markelo after Tyias Browning was sent to Sunderland on loan for the season.