Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has revealed he has his doubts over whether his club will manage to complete the signing of Manchester United defender, Phil Jones. Hughes, who was once upon a time a United player himself, has admitted he is an admirer of United’s number four, however, he does not feel like his side are even remotely close to signing him – despite the Potters assistant manager, Mark Bowen, hyping up the central defender.
In truth, many Manchester United fans would be glad to see the back of the versatile player who has failed to make any real impact on the first team since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, mainly due to him having a nightmare time with injuries. Ferguson had been known to have extremely high hopes for the Englishman and had even been quoted saying that one day he believes the defender could become the England captain. Stoke, who already have two ex-Manchester United defenders on their ranks in Ryan Shawcross and Phil Bardsley – have openly admitted they have explored the prospect of adding a third, in Jones.
“As I said we’ve made enquiries, we’ve talked about a lot of players, too many to list to be perfectly honest.”
Hughes who was speaking ahead of Stoke City’s Barclay’s Premier League clash against Everton this weekend seemingly played down the club’s chances of securing the signature of Jones by hinting that the enquiry he made had been rejected.
“Clearly he’s a player that has got good pedigree and is at a good club and sometimes you just enquire to see what the current thinking is on certain players.”
“I’ve had ups and downs, it started off really well and winning the league in my second season was a dream, I’ve managed to play at a World Cup, been at a Euros, played over 100 games, overall not as many as I’d have liked but hopefully I can get many more games.
“I didn’t play much football last season so it’s important for me to stay fit and give myself a bit of an edge at the start of the season, come back fit and strong. I’ve started seasons off and set this goal and that goal, and I want to do this and I want to do that.
“I just want to play football this season and just enjoy it, play games and win things ultimately and hopefully we can do that.”
There have been reports that the former Blackburn Rovers defender is willing to stick around and fight for his place, although, it would be extremely difficult for him to break into the team as a regular and not just as a rotation player, considering the form of Eric Bailly and Daley Blind and how good of a season Chris Smalling had last campaign – which resulted in him winning the Manchester United Players’ Player of the Year.
If United were to show Jones the exit door it would be wise to expect another United signing this summer, especially if rumours of Marcus Rojo to Valencia are to become reality – Jose Fonte has been rumoured to be on United’s replacement list, although reports recently suggest he is set to remain at Southampton which may put any possible outgoings into jeopardy. However, Mourinho may have different ideas and use the likes of Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe, who he rates highly, at the heart of the defence at Old Trafford should the club experience a couple of injuries in the centre-back position – Matteo Darmian is also an option, as he has had experience playing more central, but rumours of him to leaving the club have been heating up.
Jose Mourinho has also backed up the idea that Phil Jones will remain at Old Trafford by revealing this afternoon he does not expect any further transfer business to take place – incoming or outgoing.
“I have 23 players in the squad, in principle nobody is leaving because I don’t want anybody to leave. Nobody is coming in. I think we are going to have a very quiet week not surrounded by helicopters waiting for somebody to arrive or leave.”
The Portuguese manager did make an exception for World Cup winner, Bastian Schweinsteiger, who seems to be surplus to requirements at the club.
“I cannot answer for him (whether he will stay), it’s his life and his career, and he has a contract here and a right to stay.”
Ultimately it seems that injury prone Phil Jones will remain at Old Trafford, but that could in the end turn out to be a positive thing – given Mourinho’s record with injuries and keeping players fit is fairly good. On the field, there is no doubting the Preston-born man’s bravery, as we have witnessed he is a player prepared to give everything and put his body on the line for the cause – but one thing is for sure, in my opinion, should Mourinho stay true to his word which see’s Jones remain at the club then it is a make or break season for the player, if his season is a duplicate to his past or he feels he is not getting his fair share of playing time then it would not come as a surprised to see him leave the club next summer, or even as early as January.