Wigan Athletic attacker Joe Gelhardt has revealed that he signed a new contract with the club because he is enjoying his time at The DW Stadium right now.
Gelhardt has been linked with moves to several big Premier League sides recently, with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United among those to be credited with an interest in the 17-year-old.
But despite those links, Gelhardt has chosen to commit his long-term future to Wigan, after signing a new long-term contract with the club last week, which is thought to run for up to five years.
Explaining his reasons for signing such a deal, Gelhardt told Wigan Today: “It’s a great privilege to play for this club.
“I enjoy coming into work every day, it’s a great environment. I love working with all of the staff and the senior players have always been very welcoming. The fans have given me a big boost with their messages of support.
“I just like being here – which is why I’ve extended my contract.”
Since breaking into first-team contention at Wigan towards the end of last season, Gelhardt has made eight appearances in all competitions for the club, all of which have come from the bench.
The teenager also scored his first senior goal earlier this season, firing in a stunning equaliser in his side’s 2-2 draw at Hull City, and it seems Gelhardt is clearly feeling the benefit of those experiences, as he added: “It’s been my first season in the first-team squad, and it’s been good to get on the bench and make a few appearances.
“It’s been very beneficial for me and I’ve been involved a lot more than I thought I would be, so I’ve just got to carry on working hard.
“It was a big jump coming from the Under 18s to the first team, physically more than technically, but my body has become used to it.”
What a boost this is for Wigan.
You only need to look at some of the names linked with Gelhardt recently to see just how much potential he has, so for them to keep hold of him feels like a big coup.
I also think Gelhardt himself deserves a decent amount of credit here, since it shows his commitment to giving himself the best opportunity possible from a football perspective, rather than financial one, which you feel would have been improved more by a move to the Premier League.
That however is likely to have come at the cost of a reduction in first-team opportunities for Gelhardt, and the fact that he has spoken here about the benefits of playing senior football this season, could be one reason he has chosen to sign a new contract with Wigan, rather than pursue a move to a Liverpool or Manchester United, which just shows the level of maturity he has.