Reported Everton and Liverpool target Joe Gelhardt has signed a new contract to remain with Wigan Athletic.
The 17-year old forward has been tracked by the Toffees over the past few months, with numerous reports claiming that both Merseyside clubs had been considering making a move.
A boyhood Red, Gelhardt looked likely to choose between the two sides for his next move, despite other clubs also reportedly registering their interest in the Wigan starlet.
However, the young forward has now signed a new contract at the DW Stadium, committing his long-term future to the Championship club.
Talking on Wigan’s website after putting pen to paper on his new deal, Gelhardt revealed his pride at extending his time with the club, as well as claiming that both Liverpool and Everton had previously rejected him, saying:
I’ve been at this club since the age of 10, it’s nearly eight years in February that I’ve been making my way through the Academy.
The first thing I want to do is thank all of the staff at the Academy. They’ve taught me everything coming up as a young player.
I’ve got to thank all of my family as well, they’ve supported me growing up, so we’re all over the moon that I’ve committed my future to this club.
I’m always training my hardest and playing my best for my family, they’re my motivation, so signing the contract with my Mum sat next to me was a great experience.
I’ve had eight years here, but before I joined the club, I was rejected three or four times by local teams like Liverpool and Everton.
The experience I’ve had at Wigan on the way up the age groups has been really good, but I’ve had to work very hard for it. It’s a great privilege to play for this club.
Read Everton Verdict
This isn’t a massive disappointment for Everton, because even though it did appear that the club were interested in the young forward, Marcel Brands likely has a large amount of alternative names on his recruitment spreadsheet.
That being said, Gelhardt having signed a new contract does not mean that he couldn’t be signed up anyway. Everton would face a tougher task in convincing Wigan to sell, but it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.
Ultimately though, while strengthening the young options is an important job that Everton need to do, I find it hard to care too much when there are still so many glaring holes in the senior squad at this moment in time.