United close in on Jones
Published 08/06/2011 | 20:12
Manchester United are thought to be close to completing the signing of Blackburn defender Phil Jones.
Although there has been no official confirmation from the Barclays Premier League champions, they are expected to beat off competition from rivals Liverpool and Arsenal to land the highly-rated 19-year-old.
Blackburn have accepted an offer, believed to be around £16million, and Jones was widely reported to have undergone a medical at United on Wednesday afternoon.
Jones has made a huge impression at Ewood Park since his making debut in March last year. He finished last season strongly after a three-month lay-off with a knee injury and featured in the game last month that saw United clinch the title.
Red Devils striker Wayne Rooney has already welcomed the prospect of Jones moving to the club, writing on Twitter: "Phil Jones is a good young English player. One of the toughest defenders I played against last season. Can play midfield too."
Jones, who is due to join the England Under-21 squad travelling to Denmark for the European Championship, will further increase United's defensive resources if the transfer goes through.
Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are a well-established partnership at the back.
But Ferdinand has suffered from injury in recent seasons and Jones is thought to be viewed as back-up for the deposed England skipper, even though Jones' Under-21 team-mate Chris Smalling has excelled during his first season at Old Trafford.
With Jonny Evans and John O'Shea in Ferguson's squad as well, Jones' arrival casts doubt over the future of Wes Brown, who has been linked with Sunderland.
Jones is expected to be the first of a number of new faces at United this summer, with Aston Villa forward Ashley Young, Udinese winger Alexis Sanchez and Atletico Madrid goalkeeper David de Gea all on Ferguson's wanted list, in addition to Luka Modric and Wesley Sneijder. Another defender, Raphael Varane of Lens, has also been linked.