LONDON • Manchester City are targeting West Bromwich Albion's Jonny Evans in a move that could make the former Manchester United defender only the sixth player to represent both Manchester football clubs in the English Premier League era.
Evans, 29, had been identified by Pep Guardiola as precisely the kind of ball-playing centre-back the manager wants to bolster an area of the defence that lacks depth and quality.
Guardiola, it is understood, has a firm interest in Evans but saw an £18 million (S$31.6 million) bid rejected on Wednesday.
The Northern Irishman left United two years ago after Louis van Gaal, the former manager, sanctioned his sale to West Brom.
That deal cost around £8 million as Evans was in the final 12 months of his contract at Old Trafford.
He has two years left of his term at West Brom, so an improved bid of around £20 million may tempt the Midlands club to sell.
Tony Pulis, the West Brom manager, claimed that Evans would not be sold and pointed to how he was now the new captain following Darren Fletcher's move to Stoke.
"Jonny Evans is staying with West Bromwich Albion," Pulis said.
"There is no doubt about that. Jonny will be our captain. He had a fantastic year last season and I'm hoping he steps up now. He's not had the responsibility before, to be a captain around the club."
However, if Evans were to join City, he would follow Peter Schmeichel, Andy Cole, Andrei Kanchelskis, Owen Hargreaves and Carlos Tevez as players who have also been at both clubs since the Premier League's inception 25 years ago.
While Pulis would be loath to lose Evans following Fletcher's departure, Guardiola's options at centre-back are particularly limited.
The captain, Vincent Kompany, has had two injury-troubled seasons, while John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, the only two other front-line operators in the position, are yet to totally convince the City manager.
Guardiola's issue at centre-half is underlined by Eliaquim Mangala's reintroduction to the first-team squad after spending all of last year at Valencia on loan.
The Frenchman cost £42 million from Porto in the summer of 2014 but failed to impress, yet Guardiola named Mangala on the bench for last Saturday's 2-0 victory at Brighton.
It signalled that despite his shaky City career, Mangala is currently ahead of Tosin Adarabioyo and Jason Denayer.