West Brom look set to take a considerable hit in their efforts to stave of relegation this season with the news that captain Jonny Evans is likely to leave the club in January.
Evans still has 18 months to run on his contract at the Hawthorns but the Telegraph are reporting that the influential 29-year-old midfielder has no intention of extending his stay and may also be tempted to “pursue a new challenge” should offers start rolling in next month.
Indeed, the Northern Irishman drew approaches from Arsenal, Man City and Leicester City back in the summer. However, the Baggies snuffed it all out as each potential suitor failed to match their £30million valuation.
Speaking at his weekly press conference, manager Alan Pardew addressed the situation:
Do I want to lose Jonny Evans? Of course not. Do I fear losing him? Of course I do.
I think you have to be realistic in these situations. Jonny is a top player, other clubs were interested in him in the summer. We know that and he knows that, we have to be intelligent and straightforward dealing with it.
He is under contract for West Brom. He knows he can have those conversations [about money] with us.
We will give him the deal we can possibly go to on the financial side and length of contract, but that might not be the whole thing with Jonny.
If the bid is such, it becomes very difficult [to turn down, so] we will look at it then.
The Telegraph seem to think that both Arsenal and Man City are likely to have another dabble on the Evans front, though at a massively reduced price point.
However, The Times seem convinced that the man himself would gladly snub them all in favour of a move back to Manchester United – who they ponder are in the market for a ready-made replacement for Eric Bailly, who is set to miss three months with an ankle injury.
Evans, of course, is your archetypal ‘7 out of 10’ player – ridiculously consistent, defensively sound, vastly experienced, influential as captain.
Let’s face it, United could do worse.