Rio Ferdinand believes injury-ravaged former team-mate Phil Jones should have left Manchester United before Chris Smalling and has now urged him to “find a new club”.
Jones, 29, has endured an injury-ridden career at Old Trafford since joining from Blackburn Rovers in 2011, last featuring in a senior game for the club in January 2020.
The 27-capped England international took to the turf last week in a behind-closed doors friendly against Burnley, his first appearance in 19 months.
He has also appeared extensively in pre-season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and will no doubt be eyeing up a return to the Norwegian’s matchday squad, with two years remaining on the versatile defender’s current contract.
It has been a huge fall from grace for a player who, at one time, encouraged Sir Alex Ferguson to suggest he could go on to become the club’s “best ever player”, not to mention prompting the esteemed Glaswegian to sign him for £16.5m a decade ago.
Despite his recent return to fitness, Jones has been pushed further down the pecking order following the lucrative acquisition of Real Madrid superstar Raphael Varane, with Ferdinand now pleading for his former team-mate to leave the club and free up a space for an academy player.
“He’s taking up a youth team player’s position in that squad right now,” Ferdinand told his 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.
“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.”