Jonny Evans ready to move to Everton in an £8m deal
Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans is ready to move to Everton from Manchester United in an £8 million deal.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed in March that the 27-year-old would be leaving Old Trafford in the summer and it is understood he is content his next destination is Goodison Park.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez believes Evans can bring big game knowhow and experience to his defence, which was found wanting last term.
Midway through last season Evans knew the writing was on the wall for him at United under Louis van Gaal, who didn't see the Ulsterman as a first team regular in the future.
Several Premier League clubs were interested in the defender with Arsenal, Spurs and WBA all considering making an offer, but it is Everton who have pounced.
United initially valued the player at £10 million, but given that he has only one more year of his contract to run, they are willing to accept a decreased price.
Professionally and personally the switch to nearby Everton will work for Evans as he and his family won’t have to move house. His wife, Helen, is a popular presenter on United’s in-house television station MUTV.
While knowing it is a wise decision if he wants to play week in week out in the Premier League, Evans will obviously feel some disappointment leaving United, but he can do so with a sense of pride having played almost 200 times for his boyhood club, winning a host of trophies.
Since making his debut for United in 2007, Evans, whose mum and dad moved to Manchester when he joined the Red Devils, has won three Premier League titles and the League Cup.
Former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was never afraid to use Evans in big games and, in particular alongside Nemanja Vidic in central defence, the Northern Ireland ace often excelled.
He will hope to form a similar partnership at Everton with either the experienced Phil Jagielka or blossoming young talent John Stones.
Last season turned out to be a nightmare for Evans with Van Gaal at the helm, though ironically in pre-season the Dutchman was impressed by the player who has had loan spells at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland, and even considered building his defence around him.
Injuries and loss of form during the campaign cost Evans, leaving him behind England’s Phil Jones and Chris Smalling and even young countryman Paddy McNair in the pecking order.
Then came a six-match ban in March for a spitting incident with Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse during a league game at St James’ Park. Evans was found guilty of spitting at his opponent by the FA, a verdict he strongly objected to and always will.
Now he will swap red for blue, following in the footsteps of one of his heroes, Northern Ireland great Norman Whiteside, who left United for Everton in 1989.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill will welcome the move because he is keen to see his vice-captain play on a regular basis ahead of vital Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Evans, set to become Northern Ireland’s most expensive player, will join Nani, Robin van Persie and Tom Cleverley, also now at Everton, out of the summer exit door at Old Trafford with goalkeeper Victor Valdes and Rafael da Silva also expected to go.