Leicester City should table a bid to land Phil Jones in January
According to the Daily Star, Manchester United are looking to offload centre-back Phil Jones in January. The 26-year-old has fallen out of favour this season under Jose Mourinho due to recurrent injuries and lack of form.
When Jones was signed by the Red Devils from Blackburn Rovers back in 2011, he was tipped to become one of United’s best ever centre-backs. However, things haven’t gone according to the script for the English international at Old Trafford, with injuries halting his progress numerous times over the past seven seasons.
The 26-year-old was a key member of United’s backline last season and helped the Red Devils to a second place finish in the Premier League. However, he has made only a single appearance in the Premier League this season, which came in the 3-0 defeat at the hands of Spurs.
Jones, who was a part of England’s World Cup squad in Russia, returned to pre-season training ahead of schedule to cement a place in the team under Jose Mourinho. However, he was scrutinized for missing the spot kick in the penalty shootout against Derby County in the Carabao Cup and hasn’t featured since.
As a result, Jones faces the risk of slipping down the pecking order even further. To be honest, lack of playtime is bound to jeopardize his international future under Gareth Southgate.
Leicester City have made a decent start to the season and the Foxes sit 10th in the standings with 5 wins from 12 games. Going by the talent that they have in their ranks, they could have done better in the opening stages of the Premier League. Much like Manchester United, lack of stability at the back has been the cause of their undoing several times this season.
Wes Morgan, 34, has looked way off the pace and has been sent off twice in the Premier League this season while Harry Maguire has blown hot and cold.
Jonny Evans has done a decent job at the back but he is 33 and the Foxes need to find a long-term solution to their defensive woes. Caglar Soyuncu, who made his move from Freiburg in the summer, has played just a single game and is yet to cement his place in the side while fellow summer signing Filip Benkovic has been loaned out to Celtic.
Suffice to say, Leicester need to replace their ageing centre-backs to cope with the pace of the Premier League. Wes Morgan and Jonny Evans are at the twilight of their careers, which should prompt the Foxes to seek younger alternatives.
To put things into perspective, Phil Jones would be the ideal option for Claude Puel to shore up his backline. Jones might not have fulfilled his potential as a centre-back due to his recurrent injuries but he is still one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League. There are very few defenders who are as solid as him when the Englishman is at the top of his game.
Blessed with a good technique for a centre-back, Jones is comfortable with the ball at his feet and excels with his ball distribution skills. He is an excellent passer of the ball, short and long, and has the ability to operate as a ball-playing centre-back. The 26-year-old has a good positional sense for a centre-back but his most impressive attributes are his strength and aerial prowess.
Standing at 5ft. 11 inches, he is not particularly tall for a centre-back but makes up for it with his strong build, which allows him to dominate the opposition with his physicality.
Jones has the ability to time his jump to perfection, which allows him to win the aerial balls despite being a bit on the shorter side. In fact, he averaged 2.5 successful aerial duels per game last season. A no-nonsense defender, Jones likes to clear the ball out of the box and averaged 5.6 clearances per game last term in the Premier League.
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That said, Leicester need a high-quality centre-back to partner Harry Maguire in the heart of the defence and they should start pursuing an interest in Phil Jones when the window opens in January.