The battle for West Bromwich Albion defender Jonny Evans continues with Manchester City leading the way ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United.

The Northern Ireland defender has 18 months remaining on his contract with the Baggies and has refused a new deal. Manager Alan Pardew also recently admitted that the defender could leave during the ongoing winter transfer window.

Evans was linked with a move away from the Hawthorns last summer, but West Brom's hefty asking price ensured that he remained with them at least for the first half of the current campaign. Arsenal and City were the two clubs interested in signing him then and are still pursuing the centre-back.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger recently hinted that the London club is interested in the Baggies defender, but admitted that they will be unable to compete in a bidding war with Pep Guardiola's side. The Spanish coach is keen to strengthen his defence and is likely to make a move for Evans before the end of January.

According to The Times, the Etihad Stadium outfit have made first contact with West Brom's representatives as they look to steal a march on Arsenal, who are their main rivals for the defender's signature. Guardiola is said to be keen to bring in cover for his first-choice pairing of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones.

The report claims that West Brom will demand at least £25m to sanction the transfer, which is unlikely to pinch City's pockets after having spent over £100m to sign three full-backs in the summer.

It remains to be seen if Wenger will match the Baggies' valuation as he looks to shore up his defence, which has shipped in 28 goals in their 22 Premier League games so far – the highest among the top six clubs.

United, meanwhile, have remained in the background in the chase for Evans but are said to have asked West Brom to keep them apprised about the defender's situation. The Red Devils sold the Northern Ireland international to the Baggies for £6m in 2015, but Jose Mourinho could re-sign him after losing Eric Bailly to a long-term injury late last year.

Jonny Evans
Jonny Evans is subject to interest from Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United Getty