News broke earlier today that Leicester City have had a £23m bid rejected for Northern Ireland centre half Jonny Evans. The move means Manchester City remain in pole position to land the former Manchester United man, despite interest from a number of clubs.
City, who are already favourites for the title, have been weak at the back for a number of years, with sloppy errors costing them on numerous occasions. John Stones and Otamendi have failed to convince during their time at the Etihad and Vincent Kompany’s injury problems persist. With that in mind, a move for Evans makes sense.
During his time at United, Evans was rated highly by Sir Alex Ferguson, winning three Premier League titles under the Scot. Louis van Gaal had a different view, pushing the commanding defender out the door and opting for new blood at the back. The move has proved a mistake with Evans excelling at West Brom and United struggling with form and injuries at the back.
At 29 years old and with ten years Premier League experience under his belt, City would be getting a player who would make an instant impact as an out and out defender. He’s good in the air, he reads the game well and the sloppy mistakes that have cost City in the past would be cut out.
On top of this, Evans is very good on the ball. He was blooded at left back during his loan spells at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland, along with his early caps for his country. This experience taught Evans how to play it out from the back and the composure to operate with the ball at his feet in tight situations – an essential trait for a Guardiola player.
His experience at full-back has also taught him how to man mark, as he showed when he kept Robert Lewandowski in his pocket during Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 opener against Poland. Asking a central defender to man mark in a back four is not common practice but – with City using three central defenders – it gives Pep more freedom to utilise this tactical option against particularly tricky attackers.
Manchester City’s squad looks almost complete and, with exceptionally strong back up available in every position, the addition of this experienced central defender would be the icing on the cake. It’s unlikely anyone will be able to compete with The Citizens on the front foot this season and Jonny Evans would see them match their attacking prowess with defensive rigidity.