Keeping Ben Gibson the key for Middlesbrough, says Chris Powell

Middlesbrough's Ben Gibson tracks Burnley striker Ashley Barnes last season. Picture by Tom Collins.
Middlesbrough's Ben Gibson tracks Burnley striker Ashley Barnes last season. Picture by Tom Collins.

Former England defender Chris Powell believes Middlesbrough’s future would look a whole lot brighter, should they manage to hang on to prize asset Ben Gibson.

West Brom have been heavily linked with the 24-year-old nephew of owner Steve Gibson, making two bids, thought to be in the region of £15million which have been thrown out by Boro.

Gibson, called up to the national squad by Gareth Southgate recently, was one of the only players from last season’s squad to enhance their reputation considerably, despite relegation back to the Championship after only one year back in the top flight.

And Powell believes that hanging on to Gibson could be the best bit of business big-spending Boro do this summer.

“West Brom I think have bid twice for him - he’s certainly someone who settled into the Premier League,” said former Huddersfield and Charlton boss Powell.

“It would be a real lift for the club and Garry Monk if he was to stay and gives Middlesbrough at least a season to get back up.

“It would be a great scenario were Boro to go back up and he was still there.”

One thing Boro have done this summer is spend.

They’ve splashed more than £40million since the end of the campaign, dwarfing the amount paid out by North East rivals Sunderland.

Powell poured praise on Boro’s long-time owner for stumping up the cash for new manager Garry Monk.

“He does what he says, he actually backs his manager and always has done,” said Powell.

“No Middlesbrough manager can say they haven’t been backed by Steve Gibson, that’s for certain.”

Powell believes Boro have an embarrasment of riches, especially in the forward areas having added Martin Braithwaite, Ashley Fletcher and transfer record breaking Britt Assombalonga.

Although he expects one, probably Rudy Gestede to depart.

“I’d expect one of the strikers there to go,” said Powell in an interview on BBC 5 Live.

“Martin Braithwaite is a striker who can lead the line, he’s quite quick, can drop in, so it depends on how Garry Monk plays.

“At Leeds last year, it was always 4-2-3-1, so Braithwaite might be the one behind Assombalonga or Fletcher.

“It’s an embarrassment of riches, that’s for certain.

“What he will do is rotate and keep players fresh, if you swap Assombalonga and Fletcher, that’s fine, then Braithwaite and maybe Bamford.

“Gestede may struggle [to win selection] due to the way Garry wants to play.

“But he is such an effective player to bring on late in games, if you are chasing trying to get yourself back in it.

“You can’t not have enough strikers, you need to score goals and win games to get out of the league and Middlesbrough when they went up previously didn’t score a lot.”

Boro kick off their Championship season away to Wolves on Saturday.