Ipswich Town hopeful of keeping hold of Liam Gibbs as youngster weighs up contract offer
Bury St Edmunds-raised attacking midfielder Liam Gibbs is very much someone Ipswich Town chief Lee O'Neill would want to see remain at the club for years to come.
The Blues' general manager of football operations has confirmed the recently-turned 18-year-old, who made his League One debut in November's 2-0 home defeat to Charlton Athletic, is still weighing up a new contract offer.
According to a TWTD report last month the attacking midfielder - whom academy manager Bryan Klug described in an exclusive SuffolkNews interview last summer as 'one of the most talented people I have worked with' - has regularly attracted Premier League scouts to watch him.
The former Tollgate Primary and County Upper School pupil signed his first professional contract with the club on his 17th birthday in December 2019 with the deal – which does not include a year's option as first thought – set to expire this summer.
With a new contract having been offered, O'Neil would very much like to see the player who has captained the under-15s and U16s academy sides commit his future to Town.
“With Liam, I would like to see that situation,” he told TWTD. “The kid’s got to play and get some game time.
“He made his debut against Charlton and he wants to see what that next stage is going to look like for him, which I get and understand.
“We obviously would very much like him to sign but that’s going to be a decision for Liam and his family and his advisors on what he does next.
“But it’s the club’s intention that we would like him to stay and we see him as part of our plans, and that’s something we’ll have to review as the second half of the season goes through.”
Gibbs, whose brother Ryan has played for the likes of Needham Market, Haverhill Rovers and Cambridge City, made his professional debut in last season's November EFL Trophy tie at Colchester United and featured a further two times in the competition.
This season has also seen him be a key player in the under-18s' FA Youth Cup run, which is currently on hold due to Covid-19 with a fourth round tie against Swindon pending for Adem Atay's side.
Speaking about Gibbs earlier this season, Town manager Paul Lambert said: “He’s a really good player, a really talented footballer.
“But as I’ve said before, I say it every time, he needs a little bit of time to develop and there’s no pressure.”
He added: “He’s really clever with the ball, he’s a really intelligent player. You only really need to tell him something once and he takes it in.
“That’s the sign of a good player, when they take it in first time then you know you’ve got a really good player on your hands. But again, without getting carried away, he has got a chance.”
O'Neil, who is also Town's academy manager still, believes the club have to look at having more interest in their young emerging players as a by-product of Brexit as a positive.
With the United Kingdom no longer part of the European Union, clubs are no longer able to sign players aged below 18 from abroad as was previously the case.
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