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Arsenal continue to show interest in West Bromwich Albion’s central defender, Jonny Evans. Manchester City, too, are keen on the former Manchester United man.
City and Arsenal had flirted with the idea of a move for Evans in summer, so current interest is no shock. He was a stalwart of Tony Pulis stability years at the Hawthorns. Evans has started 30 Premier League matches in each of the last two seasons.
Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi are supposedly Arsenal’s first choice pair at the back.
The decision from Arsene Wenger to stick with the back three for the majority of this season, though, has seen Nacho Monreal, Rob Holding and Callum Chambers feature in a back three, with Sead Kolasinac occasionally playing there too.
The defence has been up and down this term. Individual errors – as is all too often the case with the Gunners – have hit hard. Injuries have meant the back line is often unsettled. Evans, then, seems to make sense. His experience and organisational skills should be hugely beneficial to the north London club.
His form fluctuated while a Manchester United player, but, at times, Evans was one of the best centre-backs in the league. His ability on the ball has often been overlooked, and is something that will have caught the eyes of Pep Guardiola and Wenger.
Evans reads the game well. There’s no doubt he would adapt to the back three at Arsenal or to the ultra-high-line of City. At 30-years-old, he’s a wise, reliable head to provide depth to a top six club, it’s not hard to see why there’s interest.
The fees being reported, though, should make boards wince. For all the positives about his game, Evans is still limited, and, as often comes with reliability, comes a known, lower ceiling. Could he really be a 38-game starter for a title-winning Premier League team?
Arsenal have options at the back.
Monreal has been solid on the left, while Holding and Chambers require minutes if they are to develop into first choice defenders. That pair might yet benefit from loan moves, but there are plenty of Evans alternatives if Arsenal are looking to add another body.
Harry Maguire and Alfie Mawson are two very good possibilities even if Arsenal are restricting themselves to players with Premier League experience. Yes, they carry greater uncertainty than Evans, but the upside is potentially significant.
Signing Evans would be a pragmatic move. Maybe that’s what Arsenal need.
For the figures being suggested, there are plenty of alternatives that have not only longer time left at the top, but could grow into something far greater than Evans has been.
Acquiring players with the sole purpose of being a backup rarely works out all that well. If a player is never going to be a regular when everyone is fit, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.
Written by Sam Cox
Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_
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