West Bromwich Albion are ready to step up their interest in Manchester United defender Chris Smalling, after getting nowhere in their pursuit of Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson.
The Baggies are looking to bring in a big-name centre-half, and they have been checking on a number of players – but it was Gibson and Smalling who emerged as their top targets.
The club have progressed with both deals, but they look to focus on Smalling.
West Brom have seen two bids rejected and they are looking to make a third and final bid of around £23million for Gibson – a figure which is below Middlesbrough’s value of their defender.
Boro chairman Steve Gibson – Ben’s uncle – believes his nephew is a top-7 talent is not keen to let him leave to a club not in that bracket and certainly not for less than their £30million valuation.
Gibson feels Gibson Jnr is worth at least the same as Michael Keane – who joined Everton from Burnley for a deal that could be worth in excess of £30million.
With that, West Brom have turned to Smalling – who although could cost a third of Gibson, would have wage treble that of the Boro man.
There are also others in for Smalling, but Tony Pulis is a big fan would be confident of bringing him in to play alongside former team-mate Jonny Evans. Pulis is also keen on Phil Jones, who could be an option if Smalling and Gibson do not work out.
Gibson is currently favoured to stay with Boro with the Bookmakers – with PaddyPower listing Boro at 8/13 and West Brom at 6/4.
On Smalling, again they are odds on that he stays put with him 1/9 and 5/1 for the move to West Brom.
We spoke to PaddyPower about the markets around both Gibson and Smalling.
“A fee of £10million seems fairly Small-ing for an England international – unless it’s Phil Jones. Personally, I think West Brom are taking the Chris with that offer, and 5/1 seems great value,” PaddyPower spokesman Lee Price told us.
“Ben Gibson has been widely linked but, with his manager insisting he stays, we think he’ll have to take a Monk’s vow for another season.
“West Brom lead the betting for his signature – which is as good a reason as any to stay put.”