Defensive headache for Wenger

Johnny EvansArsenal have been quoted a staggering £25million for West Bromwich Albion defender Jonny Evans as their search for a centre back stalls.

Albion boss Tony Pulis paid less than a quarter of that sum for the 28-year-old last summer when Evans signed a four-year contract.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger saw the Northern Ireland defender, who went to The Hawthorns after his first-team chances at Manchester United dried up, as a realistic option if his attempts to sign Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi fail.

Germany defender Mustafi is keen to leave Spain for London and has agreed personal terms with Arsenal, but Valencia are adamant they will not let him go for anything less than his £42m release clause.

That stance saw Wenger shift his attention to Evans, who played for Albion at left back and in midfield last season, as well as in his favoured role in central defence.

Evans is open to a move to London, but West Brom’s asking price is likely to prove prohibitive. Arsenal do not want to pay more than £25m for Mustafi, so being quoted the same sum for Evans has left them stunned.

Chief negotiator Dick Law has been in Spain trying to finalise a deal for Mustafi — who was left on the bench for Valencia’s first La Liga game of the season against Las Palmas on Monday night — but has been left frustrated.

Arsenal, whose first offer for Mustafi was in the region of £15m, are hopeful the Spanish club will lower their demands as Valencia are in danger of breaching financial fair play rules.

But time is running out for Wenger in his search for a central defender to plug the gaping hole left by injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel.

The Gunners are looking at a number of alternatives to Mustafi as the transfer deadline looms. The latest candidates to be discussed are Marcel Tisserand of Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen’s Omer Toprak.

Arsenal’s search for a centre forward is proving just as problematic. Having already been rejected by Jamie Vardy, they have continued to fire blanks in their search to recruit more firepower.

Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette has been of interest, but the club are unwilling to go anywhere near his £60m price tag.Likewise, Daniel Sturridge has his admirers at Arsenal, but his injury record is a concern.


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