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Monday, June 13, 2011

Liverpool outbid United for Jones

Manchester United’s multi-million pound signing of teenage defender Phil Jones from Blackburn Rovers lies in tatters.

Phil Jones Blackburn's Indian owners have reacted furiously to what they perceive as United's attempt to railroad them into selling the 19-year-old and have told United: 'We will not be bullied'.

And in a stunning 11th-hour development on Saturday, the Mail on Sunday can reveal that Liverpool have told Blackburn they will pay £22million for Jones, a move that will ruin Alex Ferguson's holiday mood as he takes a break in the south of France.

Arsenal have also belatedly submitted a bid that tops United's £16.5m offer, and with Chelsea showing serious interest in the player, too, an auction appears to be unfolding. It will come as a bitter blow to Ferguson if he misses out on Jones, and it will sting all the harder if the player ends up at United's fierce rivals at Anfield.

Rovers' owners have been angered by United's attitude and at a meeting on Saturday in Pune, India, which was attended by manager Steve Kean - straight off a plane to Mumbai - they resolved to prevent the deal going through.

United have offered to make Jones the highest-paid teenager in the history of English football with a startling £80,000-a-week contract, but Blackburn are even prepared to top that.

Rovers chairwoman Anuradha Desai made it clear to Kean and fellow executives, who made up a 'war council' in India, that they must try to persuade the defender to stay. The prospect of being a future club captain is also being dangled before Jones.

Money is said to be 'not an issue' for Desai's family, who are billionaires through their Venky's poultry conglomerate.

They want to keep their best players, especially home-grown talents such as Jones.

But if they fail to persuade him, they will do all they can to elicit the best price from one of Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, United or Tottenham, telling Jones: 'If you go, you go where we get the best money.'

A source close to Rovers said: "United can't do what they want in this case. Jones is a Blackburn player and while there is a clause that could mean he leaves, it's far from the straightforward issue everyone assumes it to be."

Jones signed a United shirt for fans while training with England's Under-21s in Denmark on Friday and, along with his representatives and United, had thought the transfer was a formality.

The player wants to join United but it is not known whether he has even been informed yet that Liverpool have made a bigger offer.

A major headache for United is in the interpretation of the release clause in Jones's contract. They triggered it with their £16.5m offer and were allowed to talk to the player as a result.

But Rovers have taken legal advice and insist the clause does not force them to sell to the first club to meet the figure.

The biggest loser in all this could be England Under- 21 boss Stuart Pearce.

He would not name his team on Saturday night for the opening game against Spain as the possibility of the transfer deal distracting the versatile defender grew.

This story has been reproduced from the media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

Source:, Daily Mail

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