Rio Ferdinand has urged his former teammate Phil Jones to leave Manchester United and claimed the 29-year-old is blocking what could be a first-team space for an academy player.
Jones has not made a competitive first-team appearance for United since January 2020 after falling out of favour following a knee injury which kept him side-lined for months
He continued his recovery by featuring in a behind-closed-doors friendly against fellow Premier League outfit Burnley last week, but is unlikely to be in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans any time soon.
While Jones has completed pre-season training just like any other United star, he has fallen even further down the defensive pecking order at Old Trafford following the arrival of former Real Madrid stalwart Raphael Varane.
Ferdinand feels strongly that Jones should have been offloaded a long time ago, before Chris Smalling called time on his United career to join Serie A outfit AS Roma back in 2019.
Jones current deal at United keeps him tied to the club until 2023 after being rewarded with a four-year deal the same summer Smalling was exiled, a decision that was also criticised by Ferdinand.
“He’s taking up a youth team player’s position in that squad right now,” Ferdinand told his Vibe with FIVE YouTube channel.
“He’s had too many injuries… I was in the same team as Phil Jones, he came from Blackburn as a young kid, everyone was saying he was going to be this great player.
“Huge potential but injuries have absolutely annihilated his career and then confidence issues at certain times as well. He’s never been able to fully establish himself in the team. Whether it’s injuries, lack of form, lack of confidence.”
Ferdinand went on to claim Jones is no longer a “vital” member of the United set-up, before comparing him to Chelsea’s Danny Drinkwater.
“I think he should’ve gone ages ago. He should’ve gone before Chris Smalling went. Find a new club and play some football.
“I am baffled at how he’s still been given a new deal at the club given his past few years at the club. It just doesn’t make sense to me how you get a new deal.
“I remember back in the day you’d have to do some absolute graft to get a new deal. You’d have to be putting in performances, you’d have to be a vital member of the team. Phil Jones isn’t that. I think [Danny] Drinkwater has been the same a little bit [at Chelsea ]. It’s quite easy to sit there a little bit, hide behind the curtains.”
“To be fair to Phil Jones, I’ve not seen him come out and speak and clarify, he might have had injuries we don’t know about. But if he’s been fit and has been sitting there like he has been, sign a new deal and stay and not go out on loan… that’s not what a footballer wants to do.”