• United and Barcelona linked in Martial and Dembele swap deal

Phil Jones proved his critics wrong in returning to the fold at Manchester United – after 700 days sidelined due to serious knee injuries.

Leyland, Preston, Lancashire born Jones, 29, who has fought months of physical and mental torture, returned in United’s Premier League game against Wolves at Old Trafford on January 3.

Jones returned after last featuring in January 2020, due to injuries to Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly. Victor Lindelof was out with Covid.

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick threw a lifeline to former Blackburn star Jones, who moved to United in 2011, playing alongside Raphael Varane.

A partnership Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to put together in 2011, snapping up Jones, but thwarted when Real Madrid bagged Varane.

Former Red’s boss Ferguson, who celebrated his 80th birthday this month, was in the stands to see the duo finally play together – Fergie once claiming Jones could go on to become United’s greatest ever player. Some fans compared him to ‘Busby Babe’ Duncan Edwards.

Jones had made a paltry 196 starts in over 10 years, having been capped 27 times by England, prior to his comeback.


United and Barcelona are linked in a swap deal, involving Anthony Martial and Ousmane Dembele.

Rangnick has confirmed United have turned down a loan offer from Sevilla, who only wanted to pay half his wages.

Barcelona are linked with a move for Martial, 25, on a six-month loan, with Dembele going to United.

Dembele, in the final six months of his deal at the Camp Nou, has seen negotiations over a new contract stall.

Reports claim the France international is demanding a €40 million-per-year contract and a signing-on bonus of €20 million.

Dembele is free to negotiate with other clubs and Barcelona’s signing of Ferran Torres makes a new deal complicated.

Torres joined from Manchester City in a €55 million move and will be a key player in Xavi’s new-look side.

Martial hasn’t played under Rangnick, who said in a Press Conference: “He made it very clear that he wants to leave and, in a way, I can understand his wish to leave and to try to play more regularly somewhere else.

“But it’s a question not only of what he wants to do but a question of which kind of clubs are interested in him and do they meet the demands of the club, so we have to wait and see.”

Dembele, free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with other clubs, joined the Catalan giants in a £135m move from Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

Barcelona are keen to tie Dembele down to a new contract – on a lower salary – as they look to reduce their huge wage bill.

Caption: Phil Jones: Proved critics wrong in Man Utd return after 700 days sidelined.