Manchester City’s desperate pursuit of West Brom defender Jonny Evans has hit a snag, with the Baggies said to be demanding more than £30million for the centre-back.
Having seen an opening bid of £18m rejected last week, City will likely now turn their attentions to Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson instead.
City boss Pep Guardiola has reportedly identified Gibson as the next best option should he fail to land Evans, with the Boro captain’s previous Premier League experience and his qualification as an England-trained player thought to be two attributes Guardiola is looking for in a defender.
Guardiola is thought to be keen on signing a viable option to provide cover for Vincent Kompany, should the skipper get injured this season.
City go into the new season fairly under-stocked in central defence, with John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi joined by the regularly-injured Kompany.
Out-of-favour Eliaquim Mangala is also in their ranks, but is thought to be transfer-listed.
Guardiola has already spent a fortune on new full-backs this summer, making Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker two of the world’s most expensive defenders.
But having let go of Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna and Aleksandar Kolarov at the end of last season, strengthening the club’s back-line was seen as the priority.
The Mirror claim City will bid no more than £20m for Gibson, who suffered relegation with Middlesbrough last season.
However, sources close to the club have claimed the Teessiders are determined to keep hold of their man, with club chairman Steve Gibson (Ben’s uncle) keen to see his nephew remain with them for now.