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Could Everton defender target be available with replacements signed?

Boro appear to be preparing for life after Ben Gibson

Everton v Middlesbrough - Premier League
Ben Gibson up against Romelu Lukaku during the 2016-17 season
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

BACKGROUND

We talked about Ben Gibson just a week ago and hours before Everton went out and sold Ramiro Funes Mori when Middlesbrough were being linked for the Argentina defender. Boro were very happy with the performance of Blues-loanee Muhamed Besic last season, and there was talk about the Bosnia international being used as a makeweight for a Gibson deal.

The Daily Mirror are now reporting that Boro could let the player go, especially now they have Paddy McNair signed from Sunderland and Aden Flint apparently on the way from Bristol City.

Boro owner Steve Gibson is the uncle of the defender, and apparently has had a change of heart regarding letting his nephew go so that he can play in the Premier League again.

PLAYER PROFILE

Ben Gibson is a former England youth international and has been called up previously to train with the Three Lions senior side too. The 25-year-old had a very good season with Boro in the Premier League in 2016-17, and likely stayed on Teesside on his uncle’s bidding hoping for swift promotion back.

However Boro finished in fifth and lost out in the promotion playoffs semifinals to Aston Villa, who were pipped by Fulham for the final Premier League spot, and now Gibson is understandably restless.

A strong defender, Gibson’s ceiling is not very clear. He is a solid tackler and an aerial presence, but is unlikely to turn into an elite ball-playing centre half. Gibson’s stats from the 2016-17 season are decent enough - a 84% successful pass rate, with 30.6 forward passes per-game and a dribbling success rate of 94.4% to go with one goal and one assist. Defensively, he clocked 6.2 clearances per-game with 1.5 interceptions each match, playing in each one of Boro’s 38 Premier League games. His defensive numbers last season in the Championship were similar, and offensively he scored once with three assists.

EVERTON ANGLE

Stop us if you’ve heard us before. Everton need at least two central defenders this summer, one elite-level centre half and one serviceable back-up that can eat up minutes in case of injuries and fatigue.

Michael Keane will be a starter next season, and Phil Jagielka can play decently enough in spurts. Between Mason Holgate and Morgan Feeney, the Blues have youngsters who can get some experience.

The Blues have been linked with defender after defender this summer - Aleksandar Dragovic, Matthijs de Ligt, Mouctar Diakhaby, Juanpe Ramirez - but the only movement has been Ramiro Funes Mori going out.

The transfer window closes in six weeks, the clock is still ticking down slowly, but the need is becoming more urgent.