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Three legendary managers absolutely love Jonny Evans — so is he the most underrated player in the league?

Sir Alex Ferguson was a great admirer and now Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger are fighting over him, so what's the deal?

Let’s delve into the mythology of Jonny Evans.

For the second transfer window in a row, the Northern Irish defender is top of Man City and Arsenal’s wishlist.

Don’t get us wrong, we appreciate that he is a very fine player, but there must be something we’re missing.

We bow to your superior knowledge

Reuters
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We bow to your superior knowledge

The fact Pep Guardiola believes a 30-year-old playing for a team currently languishing in the relegation zone would improve his record-breaking Man City side has come as a surprise to many.

Arsene Wenger, veteran of 21 Premier League seasons, is also desperate to add the West Brom skipper to his ranks.

Sir Alex Ferguson was always a big fan, famously choosing Evans over Gerard Pique, and has admitted to being ‘stunned’ when Louis van Gaal sold him to the Baggies in 2015.

So what is it about him that these legendary managers admire?

A long-running mystery

Reuters
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A long-running mystery

Many armchair analysts became huge fans of Evans the moment City declared their interest — funny that.

Very few neutrals had donated a single word of praise to Evans before Guardiola gave the go-ahead and we won’t pretend we thought of him as anything other than an above average player in a below average team.

He’s almost certainly West Brom’s best player, but unfortunately that’s not saying much these days.

He is composed in possession, but not in the overtly ambitious way John Stones is, and he reads the game well, but not as early as Toby Alderweireld.

Evans is reliable and consistent, but not in the machine-like manner of Cesar Azpilicueta, and he unassuming, rather than dominant like Virgil van Dijk.

Underrated?

Reuters
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Underrated?

He’s also capable of playing as a defensive midfielder of course — a role he has occupied for West Brom in recent times.

But surely he’s even less likely of taking Fernandinho’s place in Man City’s midfield than he is of ousting the much-improved Nicolas Otamendi in defence?

Vincent Kompany’s state of permanent injury and Eliaquim Mangala’s unconvincing past mean City need to strengthen at centre-back and perhaps Guardiola sees Evans as a good option at first-reserve.

Fergie understood

Getty - Contributor
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Fergie understood

Evans could go from a relegation-bound captain to a near-certain title winner overnight with a move to the Etihad.

Not that he needs another Premier League medal of course, he’s already got three from his Old Trafford days.

Except for the 2011/12 season, a trophyless campaign bar the Community Shield for United, Evans served as a back-up to the first team.

And a fine job he did too.

But unless you’ve been a season ticket holder for United or West Brom, you’d have to be extremely perceptive to notice the apparent quality lurking beneath the surface.

Would he be appreciated more if he were English?

Pacemaker Press
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Would he be appreciated more if he were English?

This isn’t us having a dig at Evans at all.

Collectively, Ferguson, Guardiola and Wenger know everything there is to know about football and if they rate him highly then you’d be foolish to disagree.

At 30-years-old, Evans is unlikely to improve and so we’re resigned to the fact that we may never understand him fully.

But the evidence suggests he may well be the most underrated player in the league.


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