Most of the thoughts that follow should be merely academic. In an logical, ideal world, Sam Allardyce will be long gone by the time next summer’s buying decisions need to be made and it appears he is the one that wants this deal done. However, the story from The Times is that he desires Manchester United’s Phil Jones as one of our center backs.
In the current Everton setup he would take a starting spot, next to Michael Keane... but then so would any competent CB. Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka are both on the wrong side of thirty and Mason Holgate doesn’t appear ready to be a regular starter.
United’s defence is an interesting thing. On one hand, their team xGA is fifth best in the Premier League, but as anyone who follows the sport knows Jose Mourinho regularly parks the bus because he doesn’t possess the creative insight to make hundreds of millions of pounds worth of attackers work. This inflates the xGA above the talent they have.
What’s more, David De Gea is a historic kind of good, The number of goals he has conceded relative to the amount of xG he has faced is incredible.
Phil Jones plays next to a great CB in Eric Bailly, consistently gets to play behind two and sometimess three very capable defensive midfielders thanks to Jose’s frightened tactics, and he has the world’s best shot stopper behind him at all times. He is in an ideal situation to cover and make up for any deficiencies in quality he may have.
Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford, and Seamus Coleman are all quality players for Everton in the back, as is Leighton Baines though I really don’t think he’ll be able to play every week without wearing down the way we saw this season. Who knows what the defensive midfield will look like in front of our back line next season (apart from Idrissa Gueye), but overall we don’t have the same kind of talent on the pitch that United does and hopefully we won’t be sitting back as much once Big Sam is gone.
Jones is a decent defender but for what he’s going to cost, I think we can do better. The media have been citing Jones’ Transfermarkt value of £16m but I think he’d actually be more expensive than that.
As an English player and someone with a background in the Premier League, we could probably expect to pay something similar to the cost of Michael Keane last summer. That’s a lot of cash and I think at that rate we could get someone without those premiums attached to his name who is just as good and possibly younger.
We took Morgan Schneiderlin as a United castoff, and it started out well before falling apart. We took Wayne Rooney as a United castoff, and frankly he’s been overused for how good he actually is. Are we really going to go for yet another Red Devil that is surplus to requirements? Or as a Blue on Twitter noted, is Marouane Fellaini next?
These kinds of moves are ones that will keep us in our current place away and adrift of the top six, not ones that will close the gap. With all due respect to a decent player, we should want better.