As the transfer window nears its deadline, it starts to gather pace once again with the clubs moving quickly to shore up the weaknesses in the squad. There are clubs who tend to do their business early while some wait to assess conditions after two games and then act on bringing what’s needed for them. Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has identified that his team needs some defensive reinforcements after Manchester City beat them 4-1 at home and the Potters boss has shortlisted Manchester United’s Phil Jones to be his primary target.
Jones, now 24, has been one of the most promising defensive talents of England since his early days at Blackburn Rovers. A product of the Rovers youth academy, Jones displayed his potential from an early age. Making his first team debut at 17, Jones attracted interests from Arsenal and Manchester United during his stay at Ewood Park. Sir Alex Ferguson was more decisive than Arsene Wenger in the transfer window which saw the defender move to Manchester United in the summer of 2011 and immediately went on to become one of the key members of United’s backline. In his five years at Old Trafford, the Englishman has made 141 appearances in all competitions playing with distinction and earning praise with his performances.
The ability of Jones to play in a wide variety of positions is also a huge asset. The defender is fully capable of playing as a fullback or even as a defensive midfielder. Mark Hughes is aware of the ability and versatility of the player as well and knows that Jones will instantly improve things at the back for the club. The current situation of the defender at Manchester United is also a strange one. He hasn’t played any of their games since January of this year when he was forced to be substituted due to an injury.
After featuring heavily under the previous three managers in Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, and Louis Van Gaal, Jones haven’t featured so far in any of the three competitive games United has played under the Portuguese manager. Jones looks to have fallen behind Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, and Eric Bailey in the pecking order. With Mourinho being further interested in bringing Jose Fonte to United, the future of the England international looks to be in some doubt.
A move to Stoke City can be the perfect outlet for Jones to take his career forward. Under Mark Hughes, he will get the chance to play regularly and at 24 he is still to reach his peak. A move away from Old Trafford, where his future looks uncertain, to the Bet365 Arena can thus be the right move at this stage of his career, which will not only benefit Mark Hughes and Stoke City but also the defender who has a great reputation and potential to be one of the best in the Premier League.