Burnley's big-money flop to return home
(Alex Livesy / Getty Images)

In August 2018 Burnley paid their joint record fee of £15m for English centre-half Ben Gibson. However, since then it's been all downhill with Gibson not having the impact that was he expected to at Burnley. 

His Irish counter-part Kevin Long got the nod when Ben Mee was out injured and the apparent lack of trust and game time has sparked rumours of his exit just two-year after joining the Clarets.

So why has Gibson's Burnley stint been so underwhelming and if he does leave where will he go next?

Burnley Career

There's not much to say about Gibson's time at Burnley. The 27-year-old made no appearances in the Premier League and only one EFL Cup appearance during the 2019/20 season.

In fact he has only made six appearances in all scoring just one goal. It has been disappointing to date for Gibson and with him clearly out of favour in East Lancashire he is now on the verge of a move away. 

Middlesbrough Links 

One of the most likely destinations for Ben Gibson is his former club Middlesbrough, Gibson made 204 appearances in all competitions for his home town club and is still considered a fan favourite in Teeside. 

New boss Neil Warnock has already expressed his interest in bringing Gibson back to the club with Warnock exploring options for a deal he believes is a key priority. 

Gibson is still loved by the fans due to his constant support of his home club and town both on and off the pitch, including his recent charity work that saw him raise £14,000 for Teeside hospice.

If the deal does go through Gibson will be looking to take up a first team position straight away. The current lack of centre-backs at Boro is alarming for the fans with Dael Fry the only first team central defender at the club. Both David Ayala and Ryan Shotton made over 20 appearances last season, however the pair have left the club after their contracts were not renewed. It leaves Fry, who made 38 appearances the only regular first team choice for Boro. 

Therefore, Warnock is desperate to get someone in and Gibson fits perfectly. He is easily good enough for Middlesbrough and will be available for a cut price fee with Burnley looking to offload the outcast.

Troublesome Time

It's been a rough ride for Gibson at Burnley and both parties will be looking for a solution to the problem. It was made worse when Middlesbrough failed to complete a move to take him back in January of this year due to not meeting the Clarets' valuations. 

This only soured the situation more and Burnley decided it was best if Gibson trained with U23's away from the first team. Gibson was understandably unhappy and when the opportunity to train with Boro, then under Johnathan Woodgate, came up Gibson jumped at it.

It looked like Woodgate was going to make the deal Permanent this summer but with COVID-19 affecting clubs financially and Middlesbrough changing manager, Gibson's unlucky streak was set to continue. However, Warnock may have handed Gibson a lifeline and with Burnley looking to offload, a deal would suit both camps. Warnock would stabilise his defence considerably with Gibson, whilst the Clarets will get an unwanted player off the wage bill, which they now need to do due to the COVID-19 financial implications. 

So, the joint most expensive player in Burnley history looks likely to return to his hometown club for a cut price fee in order to reignite his career. Hey, no one said being a football player was easy, as Gibson has recently found out.