Rio Ferdinand has set tongues wagging regarding a potential return to Manchester United for Patrice Evra. The veteran left-back, who has become something of a social media star in recent times due to a series of eccentric but uplifting videos, originally arrived at Old Trafford from Monaco in January 2006 and won five Premier League titles and one Champions League during a hugely successful eight-and-a-half year stint that ended with a £1.2m ($1.4m) move to Juventus.
"Throwing it out there... @patrice.evra I'm hearing thru social media u coming home bro?!? Talk to me!" former long-time teammate Ferdinand wrote on Instagram next to a picture of the pair during their United days.
Evra has won back-to-back domestic doubles and the Supercoppa Italiana since leaving English football during the summer of 2014, although rumours regarding a potential exit from Turin have begun circulating chiefly due to a lack of first-team football.
While a regular in European competition, the 81-cap French international has started just three Serie A games in 2016-17 after falling behind Alex Sandro in manager Massimiliano Allegri's defensive pecking order.
"I do have to admit that, like all footballers, he [Evra] would like to be playing more often," agent Federico Pastorello recently told juvenews.eu. "I've been receiving a lot of calls, and I don't know where the rumours are coming from, but Patrice is not at all unhappy at Juventus."
On speculation regarding a potential return to the Premier League, he said: "I honestly don't know. I can only say that there is nothing definite right now about him leaving."
Evra signed a two-year contract upon his arrival at Juventus and last June committed to a fresh 12-month extension that included the option of a further year. However, recent reports from Il Gornale suggest that he may be allowed to leave during this month's transfer window if a suitable replacement can be sought.
While unquestionably a popular figure at United, who could potentially use a new left-back with Luke Shaw struggling under Jose Mourinho, Evra's initial exit left something of a sour taste. The player had only signed a one-year extension two months previously but later spoke of his irritation at an unspecified clause that was subsequently added to the deal.
"It's still hard to talk about my United exit, but one day – when my career's over – I'll be able to speak more openly about it," he told French broadcaster RMC in October 2015. "I came to Turin above all for my family, because at Manchester they had inserted a clause in our agreement which changed the situation considerably. It really annoyed me. But I don't regret this move, which in the end has proven to be more than positive."
West Ham United were tipped as potential suitors for Evra until Slaven Bilic labelled such rumours as "definitely not true" during a recent press conference.
He said: "Okay, he's a great player, but in that position we're well covered."