Bristol Rovers boss shares details of conversation with Everton loan star
Joey Barton will do what he can to keep Lewis Gibson at Bristol Rovers past this summer
Gibson’s loan has expired, and the 22-year-old penned a message to Rovers supporters on Tuesday, in which he described the club as ‘home’ the first minute he arrived. Gasheads responded wanting him to return, and Barton will be working hard to turn his loan into a permanent deal.
Rovers have had several loan players during Barton’s tenure, and Gibson has fallen into the category of players that fans have fallen in love with. He made 33 appearances during his loan spell, scoring his first professional goal, and captained the side on several occasions.
In preparation for their final game of the season, Barton had a conversation with Gibson about staying and hilariously likened it to someone trying to woo a girl in a nightclub. His analogy is that Rovers might not be the most attractive outfit, given the potential of Championship clubs potentially being interested.
He said: "I shouldn’t say this to you but I said to Gibbo yesterday, if you’re in a nightclub and we’re chatting you up, we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure we’re going home with you. If Brad Pitt walks in or Tom Cruise, we might have to accept we’re playing second fiddle.
"We’ve got to give it our best shot and he’s a quality player. Second time in his life that he’s played the most games and it’s been for us. Clearly, we know how to keep him going. The key for us is if you had him as a pillar in your team and Aaron Collins, there are two parts of the jigsaw that can get you into the Championship.
"The problem for us is they are all just going to be circling with deep pockets. It’s exciting and disappointing at the same time, I’ll be getting the most make-up, earrings, my best outfit, and my best perfume to woo Gibbo and hopefully, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt get stopped at immigration."
If Rovers were to keep Gibson then it would go a long way towards Barton’s plans to deliver Championship football at the Memorial Stadium. Ultimately, Everton hold the cards as they will need to decide whether it is worth keeping a player they have invested more than £6m in.
Everton are battling the drop in the Premier League, and their priority will be their relegation fight rather than sorting out the future of their loan players. Gibson hasn’t made a competitive appearance for the Merseyside club since joining in 2017 and has had numerous loan spells.
The Toffees are currently two points above Leicester City with three games left in their season. If the unthinkable was to happen and Everton were to be relegated, then the boyhood Evertonian Barton has suggested that Gibson could be a good fit for them next year.
He said: "Anyone who has got half a brain cell in the Championship will be ‘okay going left-footer, really good quality. I don’t want to say this but my grandmother isn’t listening and my grandad will be spinning wherever he is. If Everton get relegated I’m like who knows?
"Dychey’s going to obviously speak to him about me I imagine. He’ll get nothing but a glowing report from me. Give him a go. If they’re in the Premier League that will change it because I don’t think he will get a shot at it. We’ve got to give young lads an opportunity to see what they can do.
"Hopefully, Gibbo goes beyond us and signs for a big club because that will be great for his career and I think the same about loads of our lads. We’ve got to do everything we can."