Benfica have reportedly joined the race for Manchester United Phil Jones, who has drawn links to both Blackburn Rovers and Derby County ahead of the January transfer window.
The centre-back was once a regular fixture for both United and England but his stock has fallen dramatically in recent years and he’s not played a senior game since January 2020 – though he was included in the matchday squad for the Premier League tie against Arsenal at the start of this month.
According to The Athletic, it is realistic that Jones could leave Old Trafford in January and several clubs are looking at him.
It is said that Benfica are the latest side to make contact with United concerning the defender.
Football League World exclusively revealed in November that Blackburn, the club at which the defender started his career, were among the sides interested in him.
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As per The Sun, former United teammate Wayne Rooney is keen on signing Jones on loan at Derby but there is uncertainty about their January plans given the ongoing takeover issues.
The 29-year-old is under contract at Old Trafford until 2023, with the club holding an option for a further year, while the Red Devils would likely have to cover the majority of his salary (£75,000 per week according to Sportrac) for an EFL loan to be viable.
It’s not a huge surprise that a big European club like Benfica have joined the race for Jones as they’d be better equipped to roll the dice on a risky loan move.
The central defender’s injury record and lack of senior football over the past few years means it will be a gamble for any side to sign him in January, particularly the likes of Blackburn and Derby.
The Rams’ current financial issues are no secret while previous windows have shown that Tony Mowbray’s budget at Ewood Park is fairly tight.
Even with United covering the majority of Jones’ wages, a move could use up a significant part of their budget and if things didn’t go to plan that would be money wasted.
A club that is more capable of taking the financial hit seems a more likely destination for the defender.