According to reports, Arsenal are on the verge of signing Jonny Evans from West Bromwich Albion.
Evans could join the Gunners in a double deal with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for around £75m – £20m of that for the Ulsterman.
The Northern Ireland international may not be the centre-back Arsenal fans want, but he’s the centre-back the team needs.
Arsene Wenger generally signs younger talent and brings them through. But his side are screaming out for a senior player at the heart of the defence with the ability to lead for a handful of seasons.
Having just turned 30-years-old, he is now in his prime and has – you’d think – about three to four good years left at the top.
A Premier League winner with Manchester United on three different occasions, Evans knows what it takes to win at a top club. He’s also starred for his country at a major international tournament.
Tough as teak, relatively quick for a central defender, and rarely makes mistakes – it’s a no-brainer for Wenger.
This deal simply has to happen for both Arsenal and the player. This is probably his last chance at a big move and the Gunners get a top quality centre-back for a reasonable fee.
Signing the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang is great. But it means little if the soft underbelly of the team is not addressed.
West Brom have been reluctant to sell in previous windows. However, Alan Pardew’s side are in danger of dropping to the Championship this season.
Evans is rumoured to have a relegation clause of just £3m. And that puts Albion in a precarious position. Pardew keeps the player and hopes to avoid the drop. Or sells now and reinvests the money in his squad.
Manchester City have also been long-linked with him. But Pep Guardiola has seemingly turned his attention to Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte – a 5/2 shot to sign for the Citizens.
At 23-years-old and a French international, Laporte is archetypal Wenger signing. However, his reported £60m release clause and City’s spending power are things Arsenal cannot compete with.
For Gunners fans, Evans might feel like a less-than-glamorous backup option. But the Baggies man will cost £40m less and practically guarantees the team the defensive solidity that it so badly needs.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication