£6m Everton defender in risk of free transfer open to permanent stay at Bristol Rovers

The Gas could have their eyes on a first summer transfer signing already
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Centre-back Lewis Gibson has not ruled out signing for Bristol Rovers permanently when he returns to Everton this summer.

The 22-year-old is on a season-long loan with the Gas, but will return to the Toffees after the conclusion of the 2022/23 campaign. Gibson signed a contract extension before joining Rovers, and will seek clarity from the Merseyside club about his long-term future. He joined Newcastle United on a deal that that was rumoured to be up to £6m according to ChronicleLive.

Frank Lampard was manager at the time of his move to Everton, but the Chelsea legend has since been sacked and replaced by Joey Barton’s good friend and coaching mentor Sean Dyche. Gibson turns 23 in July and once his loan expires at the Memorial Stadium, he could be available on a free transfer, with there a desire from Rovers end to sign him to a permanent contract.

“The door is always open, you know what I mean,” said Gibson. “I’m always open to everything, I’ve loved it here and it’s probably been my favourite loan club wise and pitch time, it’s been the whole package.”

“I’m not really fussed about my contract to be honest as in I am getting my head down here. I just want to play as many games as possible of what’s left here. We’ve got ten games to go and it’s about me performing week-in-week-out and picking up results for this club.”

Despite being just 22, Gibson is one of the more experienced members of the Rovers defence. His return has coincided with the Gas’ upturn in form - with Tuesday’s defeat to Wycombe their first in four games, compared to the six they had in seven without the Everton loanee.

“It gives me a bit of ownership and leadership which I thrive off. I think the average age of the back four is probably 21.

“I think I’m the oldest in the group, I’m the old man. It gives me some ownership and leadership to take on and to add a new kind of role for my armoury really.”

Gibson comes from the blue half of Merseyside but in recent weeks has partnered a highly-rated prospect from bitter rivals Liverpool. England Under-19 international Jarell Quansah joined in January and replaced Bobby Thomas.

Quansah is a slightly different defender to Gibson in that there is an emphasis on being comfortable on the ball, but both are still yet to score a goal in the blue and white. Despite the rivalry of their two parent clubs, the former Newcastle United academy youngster rates his current teammate highly and wants to help play a role in the development of his career.

He said: “He’s a really good player and a really good talent. I enjoy being in a younger back four because I feel like I can be a bit of a leader.

“I just want to help them any way I can possible. It’s Jarell’s first loan and so I feel with younger players, you get more of a response and are keen to listen and learn.”