Gossip: Manchester United 'want Evans, Malcom and Ozil', Chelsea 'winning Sandro race' and more

Transfer targets: Jose Mourinho wants to bring Malcom, Ozil and Evans to Manchester United

Say what you like about Tony Pulis’ reign at West Brom, but no one can deny that he left the Baggies well-stocked with centre-backs. For a manager who often liked to use four of them at a time, it was imperative to get good ones.

In fact, one of Tony’s old centre-backs – the jewel in his clean-sheet crown – is so good that everyone is trying to buy him, even the club that sold him to West Brom in the first place.

The Sunday Mirror reports that Manchester United have entered the race to sign the so-called best defender outside the top six, Jonny Evans.

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The Northern Irishman was bought by Pulis for just £6.5m two and a half years ago, but now United may have to pay £30m to get him back, while seeing off fierce competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

Tony should get a cut of that really, to go with the £2m compensation he bagged when the Baggies sacked him last month (three receptacle-based words out of five in that sentence – some kind of record surely?).

Malcom in the middle (or on the left)

Also on Jose Mourinho’s radar, according to the Sunday Times, is Bordeaux winger Malcom. (He has dispensed with the second L in his name because he is 20 years old and Brazilian, and therefore cooler than anyone named Malcolm.)

The left-footed forward, who can play anywhere across the front line and is rated at £26m, has made his way onto a “shortlist” of United’s January targets after impressing with seven goals and four assists in Ligue 1 so far this season.

Another man on that shortlist, no doubt, is Mesut Ozil. However, the Daily Star Sunday claims United will “wait until the summer” to sign the Arsenal playmaker because all they would have to pay is his £8m signing-on fee.

Arsenal have reportedly attempted to counter this by offering Ozil a £4m signing-on fee just to sign a new Emirates contract. £8m still sounds better though.

Conte closes on Sandro

United look set to miss out to Chelsea in the race to sign Juventus full-back Alex Sandro, who Antonio Conte has been given the “green light” to buy for around £55m next month (Sunday Express). So it turns out constant moaning about the size of your squad does sometimes pay off.

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Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce is set to return to his former club Crystal Palace to sign his former striker Christian Benteke for Everton in January, says the Sunday Mirror. The Belgian has been in sizzling form this season, smashing in one goal in just 13 games. Lethal.

Elsewhere, Man City have scouted Augsburg’s 24-year-old Philipp Max as potential transfer window signing as cover for the injured Benjamin Mendy (Mail on Sunday), new West Ham boss David Moyes wants to make Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter his first Hammers signing in a £15m deal (Sun on Sunday) and old West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has been trying to defend himself after Irons chairman David Sullivan blamed him for all the club’s bad signings (Sun on Sunday). He’s going to need a better lawyer to justify last January’s £20m outlay on Robert Snodgrass and Jose Fonte though.