Gillingham must complete a deal to sign Ipswich Town centre-back Luke Chambers after opening talks with the 35-year-old.
Chambers is out of contract at the end of the month and Gillingham has reportedly opened talks with the defender over a deal to join the club next season. According to Football Insider, Ipswich have opted against renewing Chambers’ contract and will allow him to depart from Portman Road on a free transfer on July 1st, opening the door for Gillingham to bring him in.
Gillingham are also said to be interested in Chambers’ former teammate Alan Judge, who was released by Ipswich earlier this year. The report does not, however, reveal how much is on offer for Chambers or Judge at this moment in time or how likely a deal is for the former.
This could be a great addition to Steve Evans’ squad. Connor Ogilvie, Jack Tucker, Ryan Jackson and Robbie Cundy were Gillingham’s most-used back four in League One and Jackson is the only one of them above the age of 25 – at 30. Tucker, 21, and Cundy, 24, were the first-choice centre-back pairing and Chambers’ experience could be huge for the pair. They are young defenders still in the early days of their career and Chambers could use what he has been through at Nottingham Forest and Ipswich to help improve them and guide them at Gillingham.
Chambers was handed the Ipswich captaincy when Carlos Edwards departed in 2014, leading the club for six straight seasons at the back. The 35-year-old played just shy of 400 competitive games for Ipswich, with the majority of them coming as captain, which shows how vastly experienced he is in the Football League. The £4k-per-week defender has played 455 Championship games in his career and 155 in League One.
Earlier this year, Ipswich manager Paul Cook labelled Chambers as an “exemplary pro” and praised the captain for how he handled himself this season. At the time, the former Wigan boss was open to Chambers staying at Ipswich, although that does not appear to be on the cards as it stands. Cook told TWTD:
“Going forward, Luke will have decisions to make on his future in the summer. I certainly think Luke can be around after the summer if he wants to be. What part that might be might be different, but that’s between me and Luke.
“Luke’s been an exemplary pro up to today, even on the bench today he conducted himself great and that’s what I want. Everyone can’t play every week but we’ve got to support each other.”
Chambers, therefore, could be brought in for his value off the pitch as much as on it. He is a leader and could use his off-the-pitch attributes to help Gillingham push on by helping the younger players in the squad and then playing his part on the pitch when needed. Chambers averaged a solid 6.85 WhoScored rating in 39 League One games for Ipswich, which shows that he still has what it takes to perform at this level.