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Erik ten Hag may have to make unthinkable Manchester United decision this summer



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Erik ten Hag may have no choice but to extend the contract of Jonny Evans – a move that would have been unthinkable just six months ago.

Jonny Evans signed for Manchester United late into the 2023 summer transfer window, having been drafted in as an emergency fifth central defender by Erik ten Hag after training with the team as a free agent during pre-season.

However, injury and illness to all four centre-backs above him have meant that he has featured 16 times already this season, with 12 of these coming in the Premier League.

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Evans has formed partnerships with both Raphaël Varane and Harry Maguire so far in the campaign, starting 10 times.

United look set to get rid of at least one of their central defenders this summer, with Harry Maguire, Raphaël Varane, and Victor Lindelöf’s futures all in the balance – and this one defender will certainly need replacing.

The club have a limited budget heading into the 2024/25 season, even when including Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s cash injection, and signings will have to be prioritised.

The chances that United will be able to sign two centre-backs this summer are slim to none, with the club wanting a new striker, winger, and potentially a midfielder to replace one of Casemiro or Christian Eriksen.

This season has shown United that they need at least five centre-backs due to the potential injury catastrophes that can occur and cannot afford to bring in more than one in the next window – meaning that Jonny Evans may have to sign a further one-year contract.

Willy Kambwala has shown promise of late that he can play when called upon, but it may be unwise of the club to put a young defender straight into the backup role, especially as this season has shown just how often a 5th-choice central defender may be used.

Jonny Evans’ contract came as a surprise to many when it was announced in August, but the idea of him signing for another year was unthinkable at the time. However, considering the circumstances, this might have to become a reality.