Thursday 27 October 2016

West Brom's outrageous valuation of Jonny Evans perfectly highlights how crazy the transfer market has become

Jeremy Wilson

Published 22/08/2016 | 21:46

Arsenal’s centre-back search is being met by closed doors and spiralling prices at home as well as across Europe, with West Bromwich Albion unwilling to even consider selling Jonny Evans for less than £25 million.

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Southampton are also adamant that their captain Jose Fonte will not leave this summer and has the choice now simply between accepting the offer of an improved contract or remaining on his current wages for a deal that does not expire until 2018.

Arsenal are still hoping to complete a deal for Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi but, amid a current stand-off over the fee, are considering other experienced Premier League options including Evans and Fonte.

West Brom, however, are currently focussed on adding players and are understood to value Evans at around £30 million. They are close to agreeing a loan for Jay Rodriguez, who Southampton want playing more regularly, but the deal remains dependent on their new manager Claude Puel adding a replacement striker. Utrecht’s Sebastien Haller is among the options.

Manchester United are also interested in Fonte but Southampton have shown over recent seasons that their strategy is to complete planned player sales early in the summer and that a point is reached at which will not consider losing certain key players. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said last week that the age of a player like Fonte, who is 32, would not necessarily preclude a deal but he would be highly unlikely to make a big offer for someone with no future sell-on value.

Arsenal have also not given up on Mustafi but Valencia are now holding out for considerably more than the £25 million fee that was initially discussed. Wenger is still confident that he will add a centre-back this summer but his hopes of signing France striker Alexandre Lacazette are fading.

Lyon would now want around £60 million and their stance will only have been reinforced by how Lacazette has started the season in France’s Ligue 1 with five goals in two games. Arsenal’s mistake, it appears, was in pursuing Jamie Vardy before Euro 2016 at a period in the transfer window when Lacazette might well have been available for much closer to the £32.5 million fee that they initially offered.

Vardy eventually turned them down and, by the time their attention switched to Lacazette, the transfer market had significantly changed. Huge deals elsewhere have prompted an associated inflation in asking prices that is also even causing Chelsea to reconsider some of their targets. Both Laczaette and Lyon president, Jean Michel Aulas, now appear certain that there will not be a dramatic change in the final days of the window."Lacazette will stay with us,” said Aulas.

Lacazette himself was also quoted as saying that he was only focused on passing 30 goals for the season with Lyon. “There will be no departure - everything is going well here,” he said. Wenger has started with Alexis Sanchez as his main striker in the two Premier League matches so far this season but Olivier Giroud is now expected to come into the team against Watford on Saturday.

Giroud was among the substitutes in Saturday’s goalless draw against Leicester City and, although Wenger has admitted that the France striker will not be at full fitness for another two weeks, his presence has been missed. “He needed a breather after the European Championship and I have enough experience to know that four weeks (holiday) is short,” said Wenger. “They were under big pressure France at home and they needed just but Koscielny has shown that he is focused and ready and did well.”

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