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Blackburn knew Man Utd boss Ferguson following Jones for 18 months

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has been tracking Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones for 18 months.

The Independent says Ferguson first became aware of him during his fine performance for Rovers in the 0-0 draw against United at Ewood Park in April 2010.

Ferguson immediately told the then Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce that he thought Jones was the full article and Allardyce's chairman, John Williams, privately predicted at the time that the Chorley-born defender would soon become a United player.

Yesterday, Jones was overwhelmed by Ferguson's assurance that he can be the next Rio Ferdinand at Old Trafford. Money did not come into the equation - the defender is likely to earn about £50,000 a week on a five-year deal - only a sense that his ambition can be far better fulfilled at United than either Liverpool, Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur, who were also interested. Manchester City also looked seriously at Jones but decided £16m was not good value for a player they felt made too many defensive mistakes.

 It's kicking off again! Click here for your No1 source for Manchester United transfer market news and gossip.

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