Soccer

The Wigan Athletic wonderkid who is attracting interest from the big boys – Opinion


It’s not often a Liverpudlian talent goes under the radar but at Championship club Wigan Athletic, Joe Gelhardt is doing just that.

The Netherton born youngster arrived at the Wigan youth academy in 2013 and was quickly recognised as a special talent. He progressed through the ranks before being offered a full-time deal in 2018 and making his first-team debut at the mere age of just 16 years old.

Wigan aren’t highlighted for their production of youth as competitors in the North West such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Everton often appear more lucrative to a youngster who aspires to be at the top of the English game.

However, Joe “Joffy” Gelhardt opted to embrace an unconventional route, which has seen him recently reap the reward, as his boyhood club Liverpool have been linked with the England U19 ever-present.

When he burst onto the scene in 2019 it was a refreshing sight for the Wigan faithful, who rarely see young players break through and make them perch on the edge of their seats.

Gelhardt has developed into a strong and tricky attacking midfielder. The weaving Wiganer shows similarities to Lionel Messi with his wand of a left foot and the low centre of gravity, which ensures the grip of the crowd.

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Plying his trade primarily in the youth set up he has assisted the Wigan team through big results in the FA Youth Cup before earning a tie against a Manchester United youth outfit at Old Trafford. Joe has found himself in the England set-up from a very young age, featuring for the U16,U17 and U18 sides, in which he is still an ever-present at just 17-years-old.

An astonishing record of 19 goals combined across those international age groups, in only 27 games, is what has attracted the attention of the giants Liverpool and also Everton in recent weeks.

The future is bright, irrespective of Gelhardt’s choice of club in the future. The primary focus for Wigan is securing the services of the hot prospect for as long as possible before a lucrative offer from a bigger club is too good to turn down.

The unfazed forward took to the Championship like a duck to water. The fear factor of a youngster driving at experienced defenders gives players in the Championship nightmares.

At such a young age, the world could quickly find itself at the feet of Joe Gelhardt with all the attributes to become a Premier League talent. His footballing intelligence is undeniable as he often shows his distinct lack of fear by continuously showing for the ball.

He is part of a thriving Wigan development squad headed by Gregor Rioch and with other starlets such as Jensen Weir and Kyle Joseph, you can expect to see Gelhardt making headlines a lot more in the not too distant future.





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