4. PHIL JONES
|Birthdate:||21 Feb 1992|
|Joined United:||01 Jul 2011|
|United Debut:||7 Aug 2011 v Man City (N)|
When Phil Jones broke into Blackburn’s Premier League team in March 2010, it soon became clear they had an exceptional young talent on their hands.
An eye-catching debut against Chelsea brought inevitable comparisons with Blues skipper John Terry, as the robust stopper swiftly handled the elevation in class and dealt admirably with some of the biggest names in the country. United hitman Wayne Rooney was quick to admit Jones was one of his toughest opponents in 2010/11, when the centre-back agreed to join United, and his performances against the Reds in consecutive seasons certainly revealed he is a player who loves the art of defending under pressure. Sir Alex had to beat off competition from other top clubs to land his man, with both Liverpool and Arsenal reportedly keen on one of England’s brightest talents, but the youngster was determined to join the champions despite some talk of higher offers from elsewhere. The Reds boss noted it was Jones’ determination at Old Trafford, haranguing his older team-mates as Blackburn were being clobbered 7-1, that convinced him he was a United player. After a deal was struck with Blackburn, Jones linked up with Chris Smalling at the European Under-21 Championship to potentially offer a fascinating glimpse into the future at club and international level. With both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic sidelined at different stages of the 2011/12 season, Jones was able to put in a number of accomplished displays at centre-half, right-back and occasionally centre-midfield. The England international’s long-term position has yet to be determined, but in the meantime his versatility will serve United well. Sir Alex has also tipped Jones to be a future captain, which speaks volumes for the high opinion he has of the youngster.