Harry Maguire (left) with Jonny Evans, who caught the attention of Erik ten Hag while training with Man Utd’s Under-21s to keep fit at the start of the summer – Getty Images/Matthew Peters
Manchester United are close to agreeing a one-year contract with Jonny Evans in a move that could raise fresh doubts over Harry Maguire’s future at Old Trafford.
Evans, 35, was involved in United’s pre-season tour of the United States after being given a short-term contract covering the summer.
The Northern Ireland centre-half – who came through the academy ranks at Old Trafford and played almost 200 games for United before being sold in 2015 – had initially been training with the club’s Under-21 team in order to keep fit while he considered his options after leaving Leicester at the end of last season.
But United manager Erik ten Hag was impressed by what he saw from Evans in training and felt the veteran defender could prove an experienced option as cover at centre-half.
Evans – who impressed for first West Bromwich Albion and then Leicester after leaving United – has played almost 500 career club games, the vast majority in the Premier League, and also has 102 caps for Northern Ireland.
United and Evans have been in talks over a deal until the end of the season and it is understood that the situation is likely to be resolved in the coming days.
Whether Evans staying has any impact on Maguire’s future given that he provides a sixth option at centre-back remains to be seen. United accepted a £30 million bid from West Ham for Maguire this month but a deal fell through.
Maguire – who joined United from Leicester for £80million in 2019 – is thought to be willing to fight for his place at Old Trafford despite falling down the pecking order and being stripped of the captaincy.
Harry Maguire fell down the pecking order at Man Utd las season and was stripped of the captaincy this summer – Reuters/Lee Smith
Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez are very much Ten Hag’s first choice centre-back pairing but Victor Lindelof is ahead of Maguire and even left back Luke Shaw was preferred at centre-half to his England team-mate last season.
Rio Ferdinand, the former United and England defender, even claimed this week that Maguire could be behind Evans in the pecking order if the Northern Irishman stays at the club.
Evans played in a behind closed doors friendly against Burnley at Carrington on Wednesday when a United side featuring Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek and other fringe players short of minutes lost 3-0.
United face Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford on Saturday needing a win after a 2-0 defeat at Spurs and with Arsenal to face next in the Premier League.
Ten Hag’s side were desperately poor in their previous outing at Old Trafford this season when they narrowly defeated Wolves 1-0 and the Forest game – the first since United announced Mason Greenwood is to leave the club – will see more protests against the Glazers with fans planning a 60-minute “sit in” after the match.
United will be without Mason Mount after the England midfielder was ruled out for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury sustained in the Spurs game and fans are still waiting for a first sight of new striker Rasmus Hojlund, who has been sidelined with a back injury since his initial £64million move from Atalanta this month.
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