Did Jonny Evans make a mistake joining Leicester City?
Background photo: Pink Spider, CC-BY-SA 4.0
From summer to summer, 2017-18, Jonny Evans rebuffed opportunities to return to a top-six side. The former Manchester United man chose to remain at West Brom. When he finally left the West Midlands, he made a short journey to the East to become a Fox. Like spurning Arsenal and Manchester City, the move to Leicester City doesn’t seem the wisest decision.
West Brom surprised everyone when they turned down two bids for Evans from City, the second for £18 million. The Gunners reportedly tabled £25 million for the defender in the same window then made another attempt to sign the player last winter. West Brom rejected all bids, clinging greedily to their 30-something centre-back much like Leicester did Riyad Mahrez.
Unlike the Algerian, Evans didn’t fight for a move. He remained content helping the Baggies combat the murky waters of relegation. Even so, West Brom sank to the Championship at season's end. Similarly, the asking price for the Northern Irish international also sank. Like a stone.
Manchester City and Arsenal were no longer interested. Evens had to choose between a mid-table Premier League side or Championship football with West Brom. Hello, King Power.
West Bromwich Albion must’ve been tempted by the huge figures being tabled for Evans. They poured cold water on those burning interest by steadily increasing his price tag. Relegation-threatened clubs who do that usually have faith in surviving the drop. There was no reason for that faith at the Hawthorns.
Most likely, the club promised a huge pay rise if Evans stayed to help. Whatever they did, it convinced their captain to stay one more year.
It only amounted to time wasted. West Brom lost their Premier League status and their bargaining chip on Evans. Evans' £3 million escape clause was triggered. Available on the cheap, there were takers. Reports say West Ham, Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Leicester and Everton all showed keen interest. The Toffees withdrew when they signed Yerry Mina. Evans made his choice.
It was a bad one. At Leicester, Evans is a fish out of water, struggling to break into Claude Puel's starting lineup except for Cup games. He's the insurance policy on Harry Maguire and Wes Morgan. Unless there’s an injury to one or the other, Evans won’t add many to his eight League starts this term. He could have sat on the bench at a bigger club.
Too old to make mistakes?
Evans is now 31. At that age, a player starts to slow down. It isn’t any different for Evans. For eleven years he was on the books of Manchester United; in that time he played in the Champions League and won the Premier League three times, League Cup twice and the Club World Cup. During a loan spell at Sunderland, he helped the Black Cats win the Championship.
Having been there and done that, Evans may not be too bothered where and how much he plays. Retirement isn’t so far away. Of course, most players don't think so sensibly. They still dream. How well does Jonny Evans sleep knowing he could have taken one last shot at the big time?