Joe Gelhardt: The Future of Wigan Athletic?
Having joined the Wigan Athletic academy back in 2013, Gelhardt has quickly established himself as one of English football’s latest up-and-coming stars.
Seven years on from his arrival at the Greater Manchester-based club, the 18-year-old striker has, over the course of the 2019-20 campaign, forced his way into the first-team setup under Paul Cook.
So, let’s take a look at Gelhardt and consider whether he could be the future of Wigan.
A Raw Talent with Undeniable Potential
Although Gelhardt has yet to truly showcase his unquestionable talents in front of goal to the Latics supporters, his form at international youth level could be a sign of what’s to come.
Across his combined 24 appearances at U16s, U17s, and U18s football for England, the Liverpool-born talent has found the net on 11 occasions, according to Transfermarkt.
Although he has only scored one senior goal for Wigan, that crucial strike secured the Latics a hard-earned point in a 2-2 draw with Hull City back in September 2019.
However, the five-foot-ten attacker isn’t a traditional striker in regards to the fact that his on-field contributions extend far beyond his ability to find the back of the net.
Despite not having blistering pace, the 18-year-old possess an impressive level of awareness, which often sees him drop into midfield and pick up the ball in deeper areas in order to link the play.
Moreover, it’s Gelhardt’s reading of the game that enables him to stand out among his fellow England youth strikers.
Tactically, football has changed, and this favours Wigan’s teenage talent. As showcased by the likes of Harry Kane and Roberto Firmino, top-level forwards now need to be more than out-and-out goalscorers. Crucially, Gelhardt finds himself in a similar mould.
Attracting Interest From the Premier League
However, the Liverpool-born striker’s rise to prominence is, in some ways, concerning news for Wigan supporters.
Gelhardt’s forward-thinking attributes have caught the attention of a whole host of Premier League clubs, including the six-time champions of Europe, Liverpool.
As a per a report from Goal, Jurgen Klopp’s side, along with Merseyside rivals Everton, were thought to be in the hunt for the Wigan striker during the 2019 summer transfer window.
Furthermore, the 18-year-old has also been subject to interest from Chelsea, Leicester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur.
However, in recent months, the teenager has declared that both Everton and Liverpool have already declined the chance to sign him on numerous occasions.
Although things can change very quickly in football, this may offer the Tics supporters some encouragement that they’ll be able to keep hold of Gelhardt in the hope that he’ll prefer to stay and repay their faith in him.
Despite his lack of goals, losing Gelhardt would be significant to Cook, who is seeking to build the foundations for long-term progression at the DW Stadium.
As of June 8th, Wigan are 6/1 to be relegated in the football betting come the end of the 2019-20 campaign, and will need their teen sensation on form if they are to avoid the drop.
The Best is Yet to Come
While Gelhardt’s best goalscoring form is still to come, he’s certainly made a name for himself as one of the most promising English talents of the modern era.
Although it remains to be seen how the 18-year-old can adjust to regular senior football, he undoubtedly possesses all of the attributes required to take his game to new heights over the coming years.