West Bromwich Albion appear to be bracing themselves for the possible January departure of reported Arsenal and Manchester City target Jonny Evans, with confirmation that they have agreed a deal to unite Zamalek's Ali Gabr with Egyptian international teammate Ahmed Hegazi at The Hawthorns.
The £23m-rated ($32.2m) captain Evans was widely expected to leave the Baggies before the end of the month, with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger and City counterpart Pep Guardiola reigniting their respective pursuits following a summer transfer saga that saw multiple bids rejected, including one from Leicester City.
West Brom have failed to convince the former Manchester United stalwart to change his stance on not agreeing an extension to a contract that is due to expire in 18 months' time and includes a clause which could see him exit for just £3m this summer in the event that Alan Pardew's side are relegated to the Championship. The Baggies are currently 19th in the Premier League, three points from safety.
Pardew has understandably been searching for centre-back cover during the current window with so much uncertainty surrounding Evans' future and looks to have settled on Gabr, whom West Brom will reportedly loan until the end of the season on a deal that includes the option of a £1.1m permanent purchase with a 15% sell-on clause, per the Express and Star.
"Zamalek will receive €500,000," Zamalek president Mortada Mansour told the Egyptian media on Monday night (22 January), per that report. "Their first offer was for €200,000."
West Brom's first bid was initially raised to €400,000 as Zamalek held out for €700,000, according to KingFut, who also report that midfielder Mohamed Ibrahim has been saying his goodbyes to Gabr on social media today.
Pardew insisted before the 1-1 draw at Everton that there had still been no official January approaches for Evans. The 56-year-old claimed to be "in the dark a little bit" and said he was concerned regarding the late timing of a potential sale given how little chance it would leave them to reinvest any windfall in other areas. Arsenal and City are both said to be hopeful that Evans' asking price will be lowered to around £18m.
West Brom, yet to make any new signings this month, will hope that Gabr, 31, can hit the ground running provided there are no late snags in the deal and replicate the impact made by fellow Pharaohs defender Hegazi, whose season-long loan arrangement with Al Ahly was converted into a permanent deal for an undisclosed fee in December.
The towering centre-back has been an ever-present figure under both Tony Pulis and successor Pardew, striking up a partnership with Evans. West Brom have conceded only 31 times during a dismal season to date and it is in attack where there real problems currently lie, with 19 goals scored tied for the third-worst record in the top-flight.