Stoke City are pursuing a deal to sign Manchester United defender Phil Jones before next week's transfer deadline. The 24-year-old has seen his previously promising career stall at Old Trafford due to persistent injury strife, and doubts regarding his position under Jose Mourinho have grown after he was left out of the matchday squad entirely for the Community Shield victory over Leicester City in addition to opening Premier League wins against both Bournemouth and Southampton.
Versatile centre-back Jones, regarded as one of English football's brightest young prospects when he joined United from Blackburn Rovers back in 2011, was restricted to just 13 senior appearances last term after calf and foot problems were followed by yet another ankle injury suffered during a 2-1 win over Swansea City in January. That was to prove his last first-team outing of the season, although he did later feature for the U-21s.
Mourinho has sanctioned a number of defender exits over recent weeks. Donald Love and Paddy McNair both reunited with former manager David Moyes at Sunderland, while Guillermo Varela and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson have been loaned to Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolves respectively. Tyler Blackett joined Reading on a permanent deal yesterday (22 August), although Jones' future is still open to interpretation after an admission from Stoke assistant manager Mark Bowen that the Potters are indeed interested.
"I remember Sam Allardyce talking about him [Jones] when he broke through and said he was the new Duncan Edwards," he told The Sentinel this week. "He did well as a youngster, got the big move, but it hasn't worked out for him there. I don't know how close we are or how far down the line it's gone.
"He's played the majority of his career at centre-half, but in his younger days he went into midfield as well. I don't know what's gone wrong, but he's gone from even a player Fergie was talking about as being someone who could have been one of the greats. But we have a bit of reputation for bringing players like that into this set up and them thriving. Fingers crossed, something may happen."
Rumours were abound over the weekend that Jones had been spotted watching Stoke's heavy 4-1 home defeat by Manchester City from the stands at the Britannia Stadium, although such speculation appeared to be unsubstantiated and the player was pictured alongside United teammates Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera in a pre-training snap posted by the latter on social media earlier on Tuesday afternoon.
Indeed, The Guardian now reports that the England international, who did not make Roy Hodgson's squad for Euro 2016, is content to stay put and that Mourinho does not wish to see him leave. The same publication states that United have rejected "several inquiries" for his services over the summer and that such a refusal has led to another interested suitor, Arsenal, instead turning their attentions to ex-Red and current West Brom defender Jonny Evans.