Phil Jones was tipped for the brightest of futures at Manchester United when the former Blackburn Rovers defender arrived at Old Trafford with terrific talent and high expectations.
United signed Jones for £16million in 2011. It was initially hoped that he would anchor the United defence for years to come, eventually succeeding Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand as they entered the latter stages of their careers.
One man who was always at the forefront of advocating Jones’ ability was Sir Alex Ferguson. He signed Jones and championed him from the start. After United won the Premier League title in 2013, a season in which Jones made 17 league appearances as a 21-year-old, Ferguson did not hold back on his praise.
“Jones, arguably the way he is looking, could be our best ever player,” Ferguson said after winning his and United’s last Premier League title. “I think Jones may be one of the best players we have ever had, no matter where we play him.
“At 21 years of age, he is going to be a phenomenal player. I think he can play anywhere on the pitch. He has such a massive influence, with his instinct and reading of the game.
"He has a drive about him."
Jones has since gone on to make north of 200 appearances for United. Of the current squad, he is their longest-serving player alongside David de Gea but he has made just two league appearances this campaign. The majority of his minutes have come in the domestic cups and Europa League group stages and despite signing a long-term contract has been tipped to leave in the summer.