‘I want to play football’ - City target Gibson confirms Burnley exit is likely
PUBLISHED: 14:27 20 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:37 20 August 2020
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Out-of-favour Burnley defender Ben Gibson has revealed how desperate he is to get back to playing regularly, amid strong interest from Norwich City and his former club Middlesbrough.
News of City’s interest in the 27-year-old emerged last week, with the Northern Echo reporting that Middlesbrough’s hopes of taking Gibson back to Teesside were in doubt due to Championship rivals Norwich being able to offer a better financial package.
Gibson had been training with Boro after a spell in the shadows at Burnley, with the North Yorkshire native having come through the ranks with Boro, who are owned by his uncle, Steve Gibson.
However, Alan Nixon, The Sun’s self-proclaimed ‘boss of goss’, subsequently claimed that the Clarets are keen on Nottingham Forest defender Joe Worrall - and that Gibson could be used as a makeweight as part of that potential deal.
Asked about his future by BBC Radio Tees earlier this week, Gibson said: “It’s probably no secret that I’ve been wanting to get out and play football and have been itching to do so since I signed for Burnley.
“I’ll just have to see what the next few weeks bring. Obviously I want to play football, that’s clear as day, but for now I just have to sit tight and see what happens.”
Burnley signed Gibson from Boro in 2018, equalling their club record at the time with a £15million deal, following Championship play-off disappointment which saw Middlesbrough miss out on an immediate return to the top flight.
His consistent form during Boro’s 2016-17 season in the Premier League had even earned him a senior England call-up but his career has stalled in Lancashire, with a hernia problem restricting him to just five appearances during his first campaign with the Clarets.
He then remained on the fringes last season, making just one EFL Cup appearance, before disappearing from view as an exit failed to materialise in January - with the Canaries among the clubs linked previously.
A fresh start awaits and with Norwich looking to bolster their centre-back options due to injury issues and reported interest in England U21 defender Ben Godfrey, City were understood to be keen to push a deal through.
Reports last week suggested that Boro could only cover a maximum of £15,000 of the defender’s weekly wage of £45,000 in a loan deal - with two years of his contract remaining - but that their manager Neil Warnock is keen on the defender.
Reflecting on his time with Boro, which included play-off final defeat to Norwich at Wembley in 2015 but promotion the following year, Gibson said: “We literally used to remember a time under Aitor (Karanka), especially at the Riverside, when we used to almost know that we were not only going to keep a clean sheet but that we were going to win the game.
“We used to sit there three hours before the game and we couldn’t wait to get out on the pitch because we didn’t for one minute think we were going to concede a goal, never mind lose a game or not win.
“It was a case of how many. I know at times it didn’t look like that but that was the way it felt.”