West Bromwich Albion have reached an agreement to sign Egyptian centre-back Ali Gabr on loan until the end of the season, in a move that could hint at Jonny Evans’ departure.
The Express and Star report quotes from Zamalek president Mortada Mansour confirming the move. He announced the deal and told reporters: “Zamalek will receive €500,000. Their first offer was for €200,000.”
Ali Gabr is 29 years old, and joins until the end of the campaign, at which point West Brom have a £1.1m option to buy. Signing someone approaching their thirties on a loan deal feels very much like a quick fix.
When Alan Pardew last spoke about Jonny Evans, he implied that he wanted to sort the situation quickly, saying: “In terms of our plans to use that money if it was to come in the door, that time is ticking away. That concerns me a little bit more.”
If Pardew is concerned about losing Evans and not having time to spend the money, it makes sense he’d sign someone now. Plus, recent revelations about the defender’s contract made it clear he can leave for £3m if the Baggies are relegated – so they’ll want to sell now while his value is high.
Maybe West Brom are planning for the 30-year-old’s exit. I wouldn’t say it’s guaranteed though. The Ali Gabr deal is so low-cost that any Premier League club could afford to loan him without selling first. It feels like Pardew signed the defender in case of an emergency, not because he’s certain to sell.
We’ll have to wait and see.