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United's swoop for Jones delayed over cash row

Manchester United's attempts to finalise their £16.5m move for Blackburn defender Phil Jones have been delayed by a dispute with the Ewood Park club's Indian owners over the escape clause in the 19-year-old's contract.

Venky's, who completed their Blackburn takeover last November, believe Jones is worth £25m because of the confirmed interest of United, Liverpool and Arsenal in the defender.

United, who have agreed a £15m transfer fee with Aston Villa for Ashley Young, believed they had secured England U-21 international Jones to a five-year deal after triggering his escape clause on Tuesday by offering in excess of £16m for the player.

Jones has passed a medical and agreed personal terms with United, but the transfer has yet to be rubber-stamped because of the confusion at Ewood Park, which has led owners Venky's to believe that the £16m trigger clause enabled clubs to only speak to Jones before making an increased offer.

Venky's football advisers are understood to be attempting to resolve the impasse by making it clear to the Indian owners that the clause, inserted into Jones' contract when he agreed an extension to his terms in February, enables a transfer to take place at the cost of the escape clause. There are no fears at United that the transfer is in any doubt.

United will complete the signing of Young when the 25-year-old undergoes a medical after returning from holiday later this month.

Young's arrival will place the United future of Nani into further doubt and Inter Milan's interest in the 24-year-old could enable United to strike a player-plus-cash deal for Wesley Sneijder.

Dimitar Berbatov also faces uncertainty over his future at United. With United having rejected Tottenham's interest in forward Danny Welbeck, Berbatov could be fifth-choice forward at Old Trafford next season.

United stand to make a loss of over £5m on Bebe after allowing the disappointing Portuguese winger to join Besiktas on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent £2m move.

Bebe (20) made just seven appearances in all competitions for United after arriving in a £7.4m deal from Vitoria Guimaraes last August.

Alex Ferguson confessed to signing the player on the advice of his scouts, and admitted he had never seen him play prior to his move to Old Trafford.

Controversy surrounded Bebe's move due to United paying such a sizeable fee for the unheralded winger, after he had left Estrela da Amadora for Guimaraes on a free transfer.

Despite Ferguson describing Bebe's move as a 'fairytale', due to the player having been homeless as a youngster, his failure to impress saw him confined to the reserves following his display in the narrow FA Cup victory against non-league Crawley Town in February. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent