Having ducked far below the bar of expectation set by former manager Sir Alex Ferguson upon his £16.5m arrival from Blackburn Rovers in 2011, it makes sense that Manchester United should be listening to offers for Phil Jones.
Rumours persist that Stoke, among others, have seen recent enquiries over the Englishman rebuffed by the Red Devils.
The Guardian insist that Jose Mourinho is uninterested in letting Jones leave, seeing him as an essential member of his defensive roster at United this season.
His integrity to the Old Trafford cause is highly questionable though. Jones’ time at the club has been underpinned by a string of debilitating injuries, reducing his game-time significantly and attaching the kind of stigma no footballer wishes to have – just ask Darren ‘sick-note’ Anderton.
Last season was his worst yet in terms of availability, with the 24-year-old turning out only 13 times in all competitions. Jones’ average number of Premier League appearances over five seasons at Old Trafford stands a smidge north of 20.
Even in the slightly unusual state of being fully fit, as the Preston native reportedly is at the start of the 2016/17 campaign, his place in the pecking order calls his supposed importance into further doubt.
He’s way down the pecking order
New man Eric Bailly is partnering Daley Blind at the heart of defence, while Jones is the only one of Mourinho’s senior centre-half options not to get a single minute of action yet – he hasn’t even made a matchday squad in the first three games.
Even Marcus Rojo has crossed the white line. albeit from the bench. If Southampton skipper Jose Fonte arrives before the transfer window closes as is being speculated, then the 20-capped England man is arguably relegated to sixth-choice centre-half.
There’s a new utility man in town
But he can play right-back! In the past, this utility tag has served Fergie’s protégé particularly well both for club and country. Yet now United have the equally versatile Bailly to call upon, Jones is not even the best utility option at the club.
The thought of Jones displacing any of Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini or Morgan Schneiderlin as a defensive-midfield option is also laughable.
If the price is right…
Jones does have qualities, not least his physical prowess and aerial abilities. However, given his injury record, waiting any longer for him to fulfil his promise seems pointless, so any offers in the region of £10m should be snapped up without a second thought.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.