According to The Telegraph, Arsenal are set to compete with Manchester City to sign Jonny Evans away from West Bromwich Albion in January. The Northern Irish centerback is out of contract in 18 months and is interested in playing European football, which is not something he will get at The Hawthorns.
Albion have reportedly stuck a £30M price tag on their captain and appear rigidly opposed to moving off that number. Both Arsenal and City came calling during the previous transfer window but were rebuffed for not meeting the asking price.
You should always treat transfer rumors with caution, but this one seems more realistic than most. For one, The Telegraph is generally reliable when it comes to not just making stuff up - if they print it, they’ve got something to go on. Obviously the fact that both clubs have already tried to buy Evans adds credibility as well.
If you read between the lines of new Albion manager Alan Pardew’s comments it looks as if Evans could be on his way out. Pardew more or less said he will need to do business in the January window to keep up with the moves made by the other relegation-threatened teams. The problem for Albion is they’ve nearly maxed out their wage bill, so to bring players in, players will need to be sold.
Would Jonny Evans help Arsenal? Sure. He’s played well for Albion the past few years and has experience playing for a big club (Manchester United). He rates more or less evenly with Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal and certainly would be an improvement over the 4th man on Arsenal’s depth chart.
Is Jonny Evans a buy Arsenal should make? Maybe not. Arsenal have more pressing needs to address before making a side-grade at a position where they have young cover that is good enough to fill-in when needed. They desperately need another defensive midfielder to lighten Granit Xhaka’s defensive load. Additionally, given the Alexis Sánchez / Mesut Özil situation, it would be great if they could find replacements for one or both of them sooner rather than later.
Furthermore, fitting Evans into the lineup would require breaking up the Koscielny-Mustafi-Monreal backline - a backline that has yet to concede a goal this season. Arsenal would do well to remember the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Oh, and it’s probably not a good idea to get into a bidding war with Manchester City.