Former long-serving Manchester United captain Bryan Robson believes the club should never have allowed Jonny Evans to depart Old Trafford as rivals Manchester City attempt to return the versatile Northern Ireland defender to the North West.

A product of United's academy, Evans made 198 appearances for the Red Devils and won six major honours before eventually falling out of favour under Louis van Gaal and joining West Bromwich Albion in August 2015 in a deal worth an initial £6m ($7.7m) and a further £2m in add-ons.

The 29-year-old has impressed hugely in a variety of positions during his two-year stint at The Hawthorns and was appointed as captain by Tony Pulis following Darren Fletcher's switch to Stoke City.

Arsenal were linked with a potential move for Evans last summer, while Leicester City failed with a £10m offer back in June.

The BBC surprisingly reported on Wednesday (16 August) that Manchester City had seen their own £18m bid for his services rejected after a fortnight of talks as Pep Guardiola seeks to add a centre-back to his squad before this month's transfer deadline.

Asked about that speculation during an interview with talkSPORT, Robson said: "Jonny Evans is a real good player. I was surprised when we allowed him to leave, especially as I think the fee was £6m to go to West Brom. There is no way I would have allowed Jonny Evans to leave this football club.

"He is a great lad, he is a really honest boy, he works really hard in training and he has done a great job for West Brom. That's up to West Brom and Manchester City whether that sort of deal happens. All I can say is if you are manager of any football club, Jonny Evans is the type of character that you would want in your football club."

Evans, still nursing a hamstring injury suffered during pre-season, did not feature for West Brom last weekend as Pulis' side began the 2017-18 Premier League season on home soil. It was the Baggies' newest defensive recruit - towering Egyptian international Ahmed Hegazy - that shined to secure a 1-0 win over Bournemouth.

Pulis has been adamant that his skipper will not be sold, although it seems possible that such a hardline stance could soften if the player's £20m valuation is met.

Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi remain Manchester City's first-choice centre-backs, yet it remains to be seen if the former can stay fit for any significant period of time. Fourth-choice option Eliaquim Mangala is expected to move on before the end of the window and both Jason Denayer and highly-rated teenager Tosin Adarabioyo are likely to leave on loan.

Jonny Evans
Jonny Evans was thrived at West Brom since being deemed surplus to requirements by Louis van Gaal Matt Lewis/Getty Images