Everton and Liverpool are among a host of clubs keeping tracks on highly-rated Wigan Athletic product Joe Gelhardt, according to Goal.
The Latics prospect is arguably one of the Championship’s most promising youth players, and is set to make his England U18 debut on Friday after coming off the bench in Wigan’s goalless draw at home to Barnsley last Saturday.
A number of Premier League sides are anticipated to be in attendance at the Greene King Stadium to observe Gelhardt in action, following regular scouting missions by Everton and Liverpool staff, along with Chelsea, who watched the 17-year-old ply his trade for Wigan’s academy last season.
Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City have also been alerted to the centre-forward’s potential.
Gelhardt made his second-tier debut as a half-time substitute away to Birmingham in April, having made his senior bow the August before as a 16-year-old in an EFL Cup defeat to Rotherham United.
Wigan boss Paul Cook was left mightily impressed by the teenager during his side’s pre-season schedule this summer, noting after beating Burnley that Gelhardt was “just so comfortable at this level”.
The youngster has been a part of the Latics’ youth set-up since the age of ten and is contracted to the DW Stadium natives until the summer of 2021.
Liverpool are suggested to be interested in making a deal for the left-footed forward having agreed to sell Bobby Duncan to Fiorentina on Monday, which left a vacancy in the Reds’ Under 23s attacking set-up.
Everton also parted ways with an U23s striker over the summer, as Bassala Sambou departed the Toffees for Fortuna Sittard after rejecting contract offers to extend his stint on the Blue half of Stanley Park (Liverpool Echo).
It remains to be seen if any side will make a move to sign Gelhardt while his stock continues to rise, and, if so, how much they will have to pay for his signature.
And while Everton parted ways with Sambou in the summer and lost a striker that had played a part in two Premier League 2 title-clinching seasons, the Blues are still gifted with prolific youngsters in attack through Ellis Simms and Fraser Hornby.
Simms has scored 41 times in 51 junior games for the Blues, according to TransferMarkt, with the Oldham-born 18-year-old boasting a goal every 87 minutes across all youth competitions.
Hornby, likewise, has been impressive in the junior grades with a goal every 157 minutes, including eight in the Premier League 2 as part of David Unsworth’s U23s.
However, while the Toffees own Hornby, the Scotland U21 international has joined KV Kortrijk on loan for the season and the Belgian outfit possess an option to purchase the Northampton-born hitman next summer for an undisclosed fee (BBC).
Kortrijk doing so would deprive Everton of one of their most promising youth talents, and free a place for Gelhardt’s arrival.
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