£18m for a United reject?! Why isn’t Pep Guardiola looking to his youth team?

Scott Patterson from the Republik of Mancunia asks who would be more p*ssed off with the move - United or City fans?


The transfer window always manages to provide a few shock moves, yet one transfer story this week probably tops the lot for total surprise. You know which one I’m referring to? Manchester City having an £18 million bid for West Brom’s Jonny Evans rejected. Yep, that Jonny Evans and yep, that Manchester City.

Leicester had already failed in signing Evans, who turns 30 this season, with a £10 million offer earlier in the summer. Now it seems Pep Guardiola is keen to bring the former Manchester United man to the Etihad.

It came as a surprise when Louis van Gaal opted to sell Evans in 2015, even if his form hadn’t been great. While fans appreciated how much game time the Dutchman gave to the club’s academy players, most notably Marcus Rashford, he cleared out many of the older graduates, with Darren Fletcher, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Michael Keane all being shown the door.

Had United boasted a fantastic defensive line, you would understand why Evans was sold, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, he could probably still do a job for United now. While Eric Bailly is certainly a superior defender, on current form, Evans would probably keep Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and the newly signed Victor Lindelof out of the starting line-up. And he probably wouldn’t injure his own teammate in the process. 

Evans had a mixed time at United, going from a player tipped to be the future captain during his incredibly impressive 2011-12 campaign, to someone who got a lot of stick from the fans later in his career. Yet it still felt as though LVG sold him a season too soon. A transfer to City, despite his potential of years gone by, would still come as an enormous shock.

There have been some players who have played for both Manchester clubs, with Denis Law and Carlos Tevez the most controversial, but you would have thought the days when City signed United’s rejects were long behind them.

Andy Cole joined City when he was 33, four years after losing his place to Ruud van Nistelrooy. Peter Schmeichel spent the final year of his career at City, signing for them three years after winning the historic Treble. Kanchelskis spent some time on loan for them when at Rangers but couldn’t save them from relegation.

It was very different club back then though. Since Sheikh Mansour’s attempt to buy footballing dominance for City, you would think there couldn’t possibly be a more surprising signing than Owen Hargreaves, but even that came before any Premier League success.

This season, however, City are favourites to win the league. For a third season running they have spent more money than any other club and with a manager boasting the CV Pep Guardiola does, there’s really no excuse for them not strolling to the title.

Given the fact so many of Guardiola’s recruits have been defenders, the timing of approaching Evans is all the more strange. Three of the most expensive defenders in the history of football will be playing at the Etihad this season, with John Stones, Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy all being recruited by the Spanish manager. It’s worth noting that this £144 million back-line doesn’t even include the £72 million spent on Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolás Otamendi in the two previous summers to Guardiola’s appointment.

When it comes down to it, City fans are unlikely to be best pleased by the news, particularly if signing someone who made his way up from United’s academy before being deemed not good enough keeps players from their own academy out of the team.

Mancunian lad Tosin Adarabioyo comes highly rated by the fan base and has been at the club since he was five. He turns 20 next month and is yet to make his Premier League debut.

Given the amount of money that City have ploughed in to their youth team, or Elite Development Squad as they like to call it, and how successful it has been at that level, it’s strange that Guardiola seems to have no interest in bringing the players through. When your record with youth is poor even compared to Jose Mourinho, a manager notorious for giving little time to youngsters, you should be worried.

Marcus Rashford made 53 appearances in all competitions for United last season, while Mourinho also handed out game time to Tim Fosu-Mensah, Axel Tuanzebe, Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Joel Pereira and Josh Harrop. He was still criticised by the fans for not using the academy players more regularly and, when he did, it was often in meaningless games.

Guardiola claimed City were out of the title race in January, yet the products of their youth system didn’t get a look in. The fact he’s just sanctioned the sale of Kelechi Iheanacho, the striker City fans previously claimed was better than Rashford, adds insult to injury.

Giving game time to Evans, even if he comes lower down the pecking order than the more expensive defenders, ahead of trying out some of the youngsters will sting, particularly when the Northern Irish defender has made his feelings about United clear.

Evans has supported United all his life and his dad is a regular at Old Trafford, even preferring to watch United when his son was on loan at Sunderland.

He’s a player who had a United bedroom as a kid, who felt honoured to wear the shirt and claimed he would support the club forever. Erm…

United fans won’t relish the thought of seeing one of their own in City’s colours but they won’t be half as annoyed as the Blues would be seeing a United supporter playing for their club at the expense of one of their own.

Bald fraud? Or could it be a second season wonder for Pep? See the latest Premier League odds on PaddyPower.com

What do you think?