Reports that Manchester United are set to test Everton’s resolve to keep hold of Seamus Coleman by offering them Johnny Evans call to mind the steady flow of players who have swapped Old Trafford for Goodison Park down the years.
Evans is as short as 5/2 to be a Toffee by the end of the transfer window and follow the likes of Andrei Kanchelskis, Phil Neville, Louis Saha, Tim Howard, Darron Gibson, John O’Kane and Jesper Blomqvist in moving to Merseyside.
The septet’s subsequent Evertonian offerings have varied wildly…
Neville and Howard went on to become stalwarts, Kanchelskis a cult hero and Saha and Gibson injury ravaged “what-ifs?”, while O’Kane’s major career distinction will be ranking lower than Blomqvist on Sporcle quizzes in terms of answers people knew.
Given Roberto Martinez’s clear and present need for a centre-half that straddles the experience gap between Phil Jagileka and John Stones, Evans, 27 is unlikely to emulate the latter twosome.
But which previous United to Everton émigré is his Goodison Park trajectory most likely to follow?
The Northern Irishman arguably possesses as much ability in his chosen role as any player mentioned, if not more, as any Red who remembers the 2011/12 campaign will surely agree.
His form in that campaign led Sir Alex Ferguson to describe him as “arguably the best defender in the country” at the time.
Sadly the reason it’s necessary to hark back four full terms to illustrate his undoubted quality is his terrible luck with injuries.
Evans’ stellar 2011/12 was the only one of the last five seasons in which he didn’t miss at least nine games with mishaps of varying degrees of seriousness, while he was with the nurse for 14 of United’s fixtures last term.
His post-Old Trafford trajectory at Everton would surely most closely mirror that of Saha rather than fellow sicknote Gibson, with the centre-half expected to provide tantalising glimpses of real class, albeit in between the injuries for many years to come.