Ben Gibson

Ben Gibson
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Ben Gibson

Current Club: Middlesbrough.

Loan Clubs: Tranmere Rovers, York City, Plymouth Argyle.

Interested clubs: Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Everton, Southampton, West Ham United, Leicester City, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion.

The defender has had an early career similar to that of Frank Lampard Jr., though Gibson is not a midfielder like Lampard was. Both have had to overcome claims of nepotism being the reason they are in the team. While Frank had his uncle, Harry Redknapp, as manager of the team (and his dad, Frank senior, as assistant manager) while at the Hammers, Gibson's uncle is the chairman and principal owner of Boro. Like Lampard he has proven himself to be a quality player in his own right, with his place in the side earnt on merit, rather than birthright.

Gibson has now had his first England call up, though he is yet to play for them, and was the only player to enhance his reputation after a season in the Premier League for Boro. At 24, he is at the age where he has to begin to consider his future career. With a large number of clubs searching for centre backs, and left footed players at a premium in particular, Gibson is going to be the subject of a lot of interest this summer.

As a player, he is strong, fairly quick, technically good on the ball, good in the air, with a good reading of the game. However, he has struggled at times to adapt to suit the partner alongside him at the centre of defence. Gibson works brilliantly well with Daniel Ayala, the pair have a good understanding and cover for each other, that teamwork is not there with the other players he has partnered this season.

In particular, alongside the Colombian centre half Bernardo Espinosa, Gibson really struggled. Bernardo's ability to make even the slowest opponent look like Usain Bolt was something Gibson never figured out how to deal with, often leaving the Colombian isolated trying to chase back like a man wearing concrete boots and carrying a small child on his back. Instead of Gibson adapting his game, providing cover and making sure to be in a position to deal with Bernardo's complete lack of pace, Bernardo was left to deal with attackers on his own and struggled badly because of that.

As club captain, I expected a little more of Gibson than to leave his centre back partner so exposed. Football is a team game, no one player should ever be left to struggle like that, with the captain being the one most responsible for ensuring that other players react to one of their team being in trouble. This is something that Gibson needs to look at and learn from, that collective responsibility to defend.

This summer will be important for more than one reason, not just because Middlesbrough have been relegated, so he has to choose whether to play in the top flight or not, but because any move will take him out of his comfort zone. They say the true measure of a person is how they cope in adversity, though I believe it is more what they learn from adversity that matters personally.

It will be interesting to see what Gibson decides to do, most of the interest in him is unlikely to come to anything, with the likes of Liverpool, Spurs and Man Utd highly unlikely to make any move for him this summer. However there are options there that could move his career on, turn him into an England regular, which is his ambition. Will loyalty and ambitions for his club overcome his personal ambitions?