When the former Old Trafford star and France international signed a one-year contract extension with the Red Devils in May of last year, it seemed that the once unbreakable partnership between Manchester United and Patrice Evra wasn’t going to cease any time soon.
Before his rather abrupt departure to Turin last summer, the 33-year-old left-back seemingly went down as a vital component in Sir Alex Ferguson’s trophy winning side of just a few years back. He proved a more than dangerous asset for his team in the final third, but also provided his manager with adequate defensive cover and solidity at the back whenever the time came.
The man was simply one of the finest full-backs in English football during his eight year stint in the Premier League.
As such ties rarely last forever in the modern game however – have Manchester United been left better off without their former captain on board this campaign, or should the Red Devils have actually done more to hold onto Patrice Evra in the run up to this season?
Well for one thing, it must be remembered that the former United no. 3 is certainly no spring chicken these days. As a full-back representing one of the most ambitious sides in the English game at the moment, only the very best is to be expected – and as Evra will soon be approaching his 34th birthday next month – such a level of requirement would likely come as a tough ask for the player in question.
The Senegalese born defender was already showing signs of age in the Premier League under David Moyes last season, so any thought of the French international dramatically turning things around on the fitness front for 2014/15 would seem hopeful at best.
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However, none of this is to say that Patrice Evra is no longer capable of playing at the top level anymore. On the contrary, Manchester United’s loss has seemingly been Juventus’ gain throughout this whole affair, as with the experienced full-back making over 20 starts for the Old Lady across this year’s campaign – such a statement hardly needs much clarifying.
The former France captain has been an important member of Massimiliano Allegri’s formidable outfit this season, helping his team to successfully take a 10 point plus lead over their nearest title rivals Roma, by being part of a defence that has only conceded an impressive 14 goals so far this season.
Such an outcome therefore shines Evra’s contribution this term in a particularly strong light. Yes, the Italian league is notoriously slower when compared with the fast pace of English football, yes the player himself may have eluded to certain ‘personal problems’ in the wake of his Old Trafford exit, and yes, all good partnerships seemingly have to pass at some point – but as the former France captain still has a lot to give in the current game, perhaps Manchester United were just too quick to remove him from the picture last summer.
The 33-year-old would have been the ideal man to show the young, up and coming likes of Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo the ropes at Manchester United. He could still be doing the business for Louis van Gaal in the first team for sure, but even if Evra’s role was limited to a place on the subs bench this season, his experience and know-how would have been invaluable in this current Red Devils side which seems to be somewhat lacking in the aforementioned department.
As Manchester United have seemingly begun a process of transformation throughout the course of 2014/15 however, maybe Patrice Evra’s Old Trafford exit simply had to happen. His best days in a Red Devils shirt have certainly come and gone – but as the club look somewhat vulnerable in terms of sealing successful qualification to the Champions League this season – maybe one more year with Louis van Gaal’s side would have been beneficial for United in this ever interesting period of the club’s history.
With such an outcome failing to take place in the end though, Old Trafford must move on in unison and start developing the next bunch of high profile names to try an emulate what the likes of Patrice Evra achieved when playing for Manchester United.