Saturday 24 March 2018

Rovers agree to allow Jones 'follow his dream' at United

Jamie Holland

Blackburn ROVERS have stepped aside to allow Phil Jones to "follow his dream" of joining Manchester United.

Although Rovers had claimed Jones' switch to Old Trafford could eventually break their transfer record, United have not gone beyond the initial £16.5m offer that triggered a buy-out clause in the teenager's contract last week.

Even as Blackburn owners Venky's were refusing to sanction the deal when it was first put together last Wednesday and were fielding renewed interest from Liverpool over the weekend, Alex Ferguson was secure in the knowledge Jones was not interested in going anywhere else and the England U-21 international will formally sign a five-year contract once he returns from Denmark.

"Much as we would love him to stay on with us -- and we made all efforts to convince him to stay -- Phil has to finally follow his heart," said a Blackburn spokesman.

Blackburn boss Steve Kean confirmed those efforts included offering to make Jones the highest-paid player in the club's history.

"The offer we made him was staggering for a 19-year-old, but it wasn't the money," said Kean. "Phil wants to play Champions League football now and we're not at that level."

It represents a smart piece of business for Ferguson, who knew the rising star was also coveted by Arsenal, and secures another important piece in a developing United team that now contains four of England's U-21 starting line-up against Spain on Sunday.

In addition, the Old Trafford chief is hoping to complete the signing of Spain goalkeeper David de Gea, who produced an excellent performance in Herning.

However, Ferguson is not focusing purely on youth as he looks to rebuild in the wake of his club's chastening Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.

It is widely assumed Ashley Young's switch from Aston Villa will be completed once the Midlands outfit have sorted out their managerial situation.

Ferguson is also trying to secure a replacement for recently retired playmaker Paul Scholes, although apparently it will not be Mesut Ozil, the Germany star whom United were interested in before he left Werder Bremen for Real Madrid last August.

With Wesley Sneijder giving out mixed messages over a potential departure from Inter Milan and Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp repeatedly stating he has no interest in offloading Luka Modric, finding someone to step into Scholes' shoes may not be easy.

Meanwhile, one of Ferguson's more bizarre recent captures, Bebe, is in talks with Turkish club Besiktas about a loan move.

Ferguson broke the habit of a lifetime in signing Bebe despite never actually seeing him play.

The transfer has not really worked out, with the 20-year-old scoring twice in just seven games.

Irish Independent

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