Despite Everton being short on first-team centre-backs, Phil Jagielka was released at the end of his contract. His departure leaves Marco Silva with only Yerry Mina and Michael Keane ahead of the 2019/20 season, which will force the Toffees to shop for at least two new defenders. But was the Toffees boss too quick to let Jagielka leave?
The 36-year-old joined Everton from Sheffield United in 2007 and went on to make 385 appearances in all competitions, scoring and creating 30 goals. Jagielka fell down the pecking order in 2018/19, which resulted in his eventual exit this summer, but the England international still had a part to play as a backup defender.
He made seven Premier League appearances last season, captaining Everton in every game he started and leading the side to four wins (57%), two draws and just one defeat. Everton conceded only four goals in the seven games Jagielka featured in and kept five clean sheets for their troubles.
The veteran delivered a man-of-the-match performance in April’s 1-0 win over Arsenal, proving he still has a part to play at the age of 36. In his seven outings, Jagielka averaged a tackle or interception every 37 minutes, won 48 of his aerial duels and gave away only two fouls.
Keeping him for another year would have cost Everton only £2.6m-a-year/£50k-per-week, but a replacement will surely surpass that figure. Jagielka has a presence in the dressing room and could mentor up-and-coming defenders too.
He may not have been good enough to edge out Zouma, Mina and Keane last season, but Jagielka could have been used as a last resort in defence.