The Northern Irish defender could yet make his short-term Man United deal permanent before the start of the season.
Erik ten Hag will be facing an important decision before the transfer window shuts in September. With former club captain Harry Maguire potentially set to leave the club soon, there could be a gap to fill in the centre of defence for Manchester United.
Maguire was fifth-choice centre-back last season, falling behind Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane as well as Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw, who impressed in his makeshift central role. If Maguire does leave, former United man Jonny Evans is poised to take his spot as a back-up option.
The Belfast-born defender’s contract has been the shock deal of the summer for United so far. Evans rejoined his boyhood club on a short-term deal, one which specifically allowed him to play in friendly matches. It was an unexpected move by Ten Hag, but one with clear benefits.
Evans’ history at United
A boyhood United fan, Evans grew up in Belfast but moved to Manchester as a 15-year-old to train full-time with United’s youth team. He rose to prominence for United across eight full seasons and made nearly 200 senior appearances for the Reds.
Since leaving, Evans has remained in the Premier League for the last eight seasons, turning out for West Bromwich Albion and, more recently, Leicester City. It is still unclear whether 35-year-old Evans will have the chance to play in United red again.
He started United’s 3-1 pre-season defeat to Wrexham, in which United fielded a youthful line-up, barring Evans. He also came off the bench against Lyon in the second friendly match of the summer, as well as the final match of pre-season against Athletic Club.
In Ten Hag’s words
When asked about Evans potentially staying in Manchester long-term, Ten Hag said:
“We need the numbers in the coming days in training. As you see, Fred is not here. We need the numbers for proper training to hit our targets and that’s the reason they are here.”
Ten Hag, refusing to give away his long-term plans, will have a better understanding of his backline options once a decision is made on Maguire’s future.
As things stand, with Phil Jones and David de Gea having left the club earlier this summer, Evans is the only United player to have brought the Premier League trophy to Old Trafford.
Can he still perform at the highest level for the Reds? He’s certainly not in the prime of his career, but if Ten Hag wants to assemble a team capable of one day challenging for the title then having someone in the squad who has been there and done it for the club before might not be a bad thing.