Over the past few weeks, West Brom and Northern Ireland centre-back Jonny Evans has been reportedly at the centre of a transfer tug-of-war between several big Premier League sides – and Arsenal.
Initially, Leicester are believed to have bid around £10m, which seems about right for a competent top tier defender who has also appeared at a major international tournament. However, things started to become a little surreal when Kefala-funded Emirati petro-club Manchester City were revealed to have made an £18m bid – which, like the Foxes’ offer, was rejected.
Additionally, there have been rumours that sixth-place-chasers Everton were also in the mix for a similar amount. And now, the grapevine is beginning to strongly link Evans with the Gunners, who are presumably keen to uphold their noble tradition of panicked centre-back purchases: Mickael Silvestre and Sebastien Squillaci, please stand up.
Meanwhile, it seems as if City’s offer may have risen to £30m. Plus France international Eliaquim Mangala. FOR JONNY EVANS.
And there’s no guarantee that West Brom will even consider that enough.
Despite the interest elsewhere, City seem like the strongest and most likely candidates to win the battle for Evans’ signature. Notwithstanding the inherent absurdity of a mid-range Premier League side turning down what would be the highest transfer fee they have ever received in order to hold out for a better deal on an error-prone, 29-year-old Man Utd cast-off, the club whose advances are being rebuffed are managed by Pep Guardiola.
Yes, the same Pep Guardiola responsible for moulding perhaps the greatest club team of all time. The same Pep Guardiola whose galactic reputation and the nearly bottomless financial resources at his command mean he could almost literally take his pick of any defender on the planet…is now chasing Jonny Evans.
So you're telling me that in 2017, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City are trying to buy Jonny Evans for £30m.
— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) August 22, 2017
Whatever happens, Evans needs to pay his agent a lot more money – and if things go to plan, he’ll surely be doing exactly that.
To be fair to the Northern Irishman, he’s a pretty decent player. But don’t you think it’s slightly ludicrous that we’re in a situation where JONNY EVANS is being headhunted by – among others – the world’s best manager? (No, not Craig Shakespeare).
What next? Kyle Walker for £50m? Andros Townsend for £27m? Michail Antonio in the England squad?
Leicester & Man City are in a bidding war to sign Jonny Evanspic.twitter.com/vhPJ6VOqNC
— Nono (@senoufo223) August 28, 2017
It’s hard to believe there are no better centre-halves available at that price.
Still, that’s the Premier League world we’re living in at the moment. Sellers are in a financial position to hold out for astronomical fees in the knowledge that buyers can afford it, and are also secure enough to realise they can actually turn up their noses at deals that run closer to £50m than £10m for players like Evans. Acknowledging that reality makes it easier to get your head around this deal.
But, well, that’s not really the point here, is it?
Most of us have come to terms with the fiscal profligacy of the Premier League; what’s hard to believe is that Guardiola, Wenger et al have identified Jonny Evans as the man to take them to the next level – and are prepared to spend the money to test that theory.
Now Arsenal are interested in Jonny Evans. Like when your mate says they like a girl and then suddenly you start liking them as well.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) August 29, 2017
As pointed out by Scott Patterson in a previous post on this blog, “you would have thought the days when City signed United’s rejects were long behind them.”
Wherever Evans ends up, he’ll be a fine, reliable player. But is that enough to merit this madcap, head-over-heels rush to sign him?