Phil Jones told his future is at Manchester United despite interest from Arsenal
Published 24/08/2016 | 02:30
Phil Jones has been told by Manchester United that his future is at the club for the time being, despite interest from Arsenal in the England international defender, who has drifted out of the reckoning since the start of the year.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is searching for a new centre-back before the window closes next Wednesday with injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel to cover.
Jones (24) has four years left on his deal, including options, and earns in excess of £100,000 a week, which would make his salary a big commitment and out of the range of most clubs.
He last played for United against Swansea City on January 2 and even though he had come back to fitness since then, he was unable to get back into the team under Louis van Gaal.
He is fit now but has struggled for game-time this season, mainly as a consequence of United's pre-season preparations, which did not give Jose Mourinho enough time to give his squad a run-out.
Stoke City have been the chief suitors for Jones but Arsenal have also had him on their list of options. Jones would be valued at £20-25m by United were they prepared to do business.
The centre-back position has been the hardest to fill across Europe's elite clubs and, in addition, Mourinho would be unwilling to sanction a sale to Wenger.
The United manager opposed the decision by his then club Chelsea to sell Petr Cech to Arsenal last summer and only agreed on the basis that the club's owner, Roman Abramovich, felt that it was the right thing to do. Mourinho has promised all his United squad games once the League Cup and Europa League begin, with a new review of the squad in January.
Jones' injury record has been debilitating and a career that promised much stalled again last season when he began the campaign as first choice under Van Gaal but had a blood clot in his calf that ruled him out until October.
He started for England against Spain in Alicante on November 13 and was a late substitute in the subsequent win over France at Wembley, but was not in contention for the Euro 2016 squad come May.
Arsenal made inquiries about Jonny Evans, whom they valued at around £15m, which was £10m below West Bromwich Albion's valuation. The options for Wenger are limited. Southampton have had no contact over their captain Jose Fonte and would only entertain an exceptional bid.
Wenger's chief target remains the German Shkodran Mustafi, whom he rates at £25m, but Valencia want considerably more. (© Daily Telegraph, London)