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Transfer Talk: Should Leicester be interested in these relegated centre-halfs?

Could one of these defenders be the next Harry Maguire?

Leicester City v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
Evans failing to clear the ball against his potential future teammate in October.
Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Every year, the surviving Premier League clubs run the rule over the squads of the relegated teams in hopes of poaching a gem who has a release clause if his club is relegated, makes too much for a club in the Championship, or is just too good to play at that level. Even the worst relegated sides have a player or two who could improve a top level club*. Leicester City struck gold last year, buying Harry Maguire from relegated Hull City.

City are being linked with another centre-half this summer. Jonny Evans of West Bromwich Albion will cost only £3 million (with a puzzling £4 million in agent fees added on), a bargain for an established top flight defender. The question, then, is “Is Evans the best of the lot?” Let’s run the look through the relegated centre-halfs and see if we can come up with an answer.

Jonny Evans

Club: West Bromwich Albion

Age: 30

Height: 6’2”

WhoScored.com Rating: 6.76

Premier League Asia Trophy - Day 1 Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Evans is the name most often linked with a move to the King Power. Of all the defenders on this list, Evans is the most comfortable bringing the ball forward. He’s very “old school” in that he will throw his body in front of the ball with abandon and he has the perpetual scowl on his face that you associate with hard-nosed defenders.

Unfortunately, he’s also the weakest defender of this group when it comes to aerial balls. He’s also the oldest, and there are signs that his best football is behind him. The 6.76 rating is the lowest of the former Manchester United man’s career.

Ahmed Hegazi

Club: West Bromwich Albion

Age: 27

Height: 6’4”

WhoScored.com Rating: 6.98

West Bromwich Albion v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Most years, Hegazi would have been the most impressive Egypt international in England. The former Fiorentina man had a largely successful debut in the Premier League. Hegazi played in all 38 league matches for the Baggies, showing a rare ability to suss out through balls and not being caught out of position.

Hegazi is not the best with the ball at his feet and, in spite of his height, did not dominate in the air like you might expect. He’s young enough that there could still be some improvement in store for him.

Craig Dawson

Club: West Bromwich Albion

Age: 28

Height: 6’2”

WhoScored.com Rating: 7.01

Leicester City v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Craig Dawson is the epitome of the no-frills defender. He’s been with Brom since 2010 and was immediately a favorite of their long-time manager, Tony Pulis. It’s easy to see why: Dawson does all the things defenders used to be expected to do. He’s dominant in the air, winning over 4 aerials per match, he’s is seldom caught out of position, and he is excellent at intercepting long passes.

Dawson is also old school when he’s on the ball. He’s not a particularly gifted passer, preferring long clearances to playing the ball out of danger. He may not be ideal for Puel’s system, but if you’re looking for a man to keep the ball out of the back of the net, he’s awfully good.

Ryan Shawcross

Club: Stoke City

Age: 30

Height: 6’3”

WhoScored.com Rating: 7.09

Leicester City v Stoke City - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Shawcross is an aggressive defender who comes without huge plusses but also without many glaring weaknesses. The former Manchester United man is an effective defender who combines both strength and positioning to deny attackers chances and he’s been consistently effective for a long period of time.

The Stoke captain’s biggest problem is staying on the pitch. He’s experienced two long-term injuries over the last 4 seasons, and he’s been sent off 5 times in his career. His desire would make him a fan favorite, but you have to wonder if his durability problems would increase as he gets deeper into his 30s.

Alfie Mawson

Club: Swansea

Age: 24

Height: 6’2”

WhoScored.com Rating: 6.81

Swansea City v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Mawson is a personal favorite of mine who didn’t have the kind of season I was expecting of him. He failed to stand out in any statistical sense at Swansea last year. He’s good in the air, and decent with the ball at his feet, but he didn’t really take a step forward even though he received his first call up to the England squad this spring.

I still like Mawson, but it’s hard to see how he stands out above the other defenders on this list. His best quality is that, at 24, he’s a bang-average Premier League defender who has the potential to become much better as he gains experience.

Mike van der Hoorn

Club: Swansea

Age: 25

Height: 6’3”

WhoScored.com Rating: 6.89

Leicester City v Swansea City - Premier League Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

I’m not sure how the Swans nicked van der Hoorn off of Ajax, but he was a bargain at £2 million. He’s a strong, confident defender who seldom gets caught out of position and is a decent threat from set pieces.

It’s not a good sign when a player struggles to hold down a starting job on a relegated team, but the former Netherlands U21 international was probably the Swans’ best defender down the stretch and did not appear out of his depth in the English top flight.


If you had to pick one, who would it be? Evans’ for his ball-playing ability, Mawson for his youth and strength, Dawson for his ability to defend (which seems to be valued less than it used to be), or any one of the other? Let us know!

Poll

Which defender from a relegated side should Leicester sign?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Jonny Evans
    (40 votes)
  • 10%
    Ahmed Hegazi
    (20 votes)
  • 7%
    Craig Dawson
    (15 votes)
  • 2%
    Ryan Shawcross
    (5 votes)
  • 42%
    Alfie Mawson
    (83 votes)
  • 11%
    Mike van der Hoorn
    (22 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (specify in the comments)
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    None of the above
    (8 votes)
194 votes total Vote Now

* Except, perhaps the 2007/08 Derby County side (with apologies to Robbie Savage).