Call him pragmatic all you like, West Brom boss Tony Pulis was desperate to add another defender to his already miserly backline in January, the Birmingham Mail reports.
Only eight teams have conceded fewer than The Baggies 31 Premier League goals this season with Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley typically consistent at the heart of the most old-school of flat back fours. Yet, the Birmingham Mail claim that Jose Fonte may have been wearing navy blue and white this month if he wasn’t so attracted by the idea of living in London.
Quotes from chairman Huw Jenkins in Wales Online that he rejected a number of proposals for Fernandez last month will only add to the belief that Pulis had made him a top priority.
The reason why, however, is rather less clear. The 27-year-old’s unconvincing performances were a major reason why Swansea were haemorrhaging goals at a prolific rate under Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley.
Furthermore, he has only started 14 Premier League games, falling behind the distinctly average Jordi Amat and Mike Van Der Hoorn earlier in the season.
Therefore, if Pulis is to return to the Hawthorns with a Chinese-takeover-funded warchest in the summer, perhaps he should throw his funds at Fernandez’s centre-back partner instead.
Alfie Mawson, a summer signing from Barnsley, continues to develop apace, his expertly taken goal in Sunday’s 2-0 win against Leicester his third in six games. At the other end, the 23-year-old was typically composed, going about his duties without a semblance of fuss.
He, unlike the erratic Fernandez, is a prototype Pulis defender, a potentially astute long-term replacement for the veteran McAuley.
Although, based on recent performances, West Brom will have to pay big to convince the Swans to sell.