Arsenal have joined Manchester City in the race to sign Jonny Evans. That is according to the Telegraph, which says the Gunners enquired about the West Bromwich Albion defender after their embarrassing 4-0 defeat by Liverpool.
Arsenal looked shambolic defensively at Anfield and manager Arsene Wenger came in for severe criticism from pundits and former players.
With one victory and two defeats from their opening three Premier League games, Arsenal, who failed to qualify for the Champions League last season by finishing fifth, have made a disappointing start to this campaign.
Evans is a player in high demand, with the same Telegraph article reporting City have already failed with two bids, while Leicester City are also understood to have had an offer rejected by the West Midlands club.
Arsenal’s move for Evans is made more intriguing by the developments in Guardiola’s ongoing attempts to sign Alexis Sanchez. It has emerged, as is reported by The Guardian, that City are prepared to offer Raheem Sterling plus cash for Sanchez in order to force through a move for the Chilean before deadline day.
With that in mind, Arsenal could use their interest in Evans as leverage and convince City to drop their chase for the former Manchester United centre-back.
Evans is currently on international duty with Northern Ireland ahead of their World Cup qualifiers but his plans may be thrown into disarray if West Brom agree a fee with another club. Publicly, boss Tony Pulis has said he wants to keep his linchpin defender, but a bid upwards of £30 million for the 29-year-old would be very difficult to turn down.
With a seemingly bottomless pit of money, City remain in pole position to capture Evans. However, with Shkodran Mustafi closing in on a season-long loan to Inter Milan, as reported by The Sun, Wenger looks to be short of options at the back.
His three-man central defence was horribly exposed against Liverpool and public opinion has taken another turn against him in light of that humiliation. Many supporters are bemused by the Gunners’ lack of transfer activity, with just two incomings to date this summer.
Evans may not be a cultured, world-class defender, but the amount of interest in him underlines his Premier League pedigree. He is no-nonsense and would offer reliability and leadership – qualities Arsenal desperately lack. Evans is also capable of playing as one of two centre-backs or one of three. Comfortable on the ball, he would complement Wenger’s brand of football.
City’s pursuit of Sanchez is key here. How desperately do Arsenal want to hold on to the Chile star? If they were prepared to sell for the right deal, then a domino effect might happen. This could go down to the wire.