IMO, Phil Jones will become the best defender in the world within five years. He will be captain if England. Hell, he might just captain United too. I rate him that highly. He is a natrual leader.
At around £17M, his aquisition is another brilliant deal from that man Fergie. He probably has kept an eye on him ever since his Premeir League debut against Chelsea, where he was undaunted and solid against Drogba, who at the time was in fantastic form and one of the most feared strikers in the world.
But what I want to ask is, at what point will Rio start hampering his development, without adding to the team?
Rio himself has been a fantastic servent to the club. For a fee of around 30M paid to Leeds, he has always added a calmness to the squad. A fantastic reader of the game, he rarely needs to make a last ditch tackle, because he has already seen and nullified the danger.
Now Rio has only two season's left on his contract (this and next), he's 32 and will be 33 when his contract ends. He has increasingly been suffering from niggiling little injuries that keep him out of the team. Each time that happens it will be Jones and possibly Evans stepping in for him each time, much like Smalling last year who is now looking better than ever.
Will these appearences be enough for Jones to continue his development? Will Rio find it harder and harder to find form? Will the reshuffiling of the back four hinder United's performances?
Don't get me wrong, I love Rio. He's brilliant, on and off the pitch. And I wouldn't be dissapointed if he signs a new contract untill, say.... he's 35 and then re-evaluate the situation. But if I were Fergie, I would at least entertain the thought of maybe selling him for a few bob at the end of the season, or not renewing his contract the following summer. It would free up a big gap in the wage budget and Jones would florish.
Thought's? (By the way, I am expecting to get shot down in flames here)