It’s official. Phil Jones will leave Manchester United when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The 31-year-old defender, who joined the Premier League club in 2011 from Blackburn Rovers, has started just 16 times since signing a four-and-a-half-year contract in February 2019.
Jones ‘worked tirelessly’ to get in the best physical shape possible ahead of Erik Ten Hag’s arrival but an ongoing problem with his knee has sadly halted any further progress.
It has been a ‘deeply frustrating’ time for the former England international, who opened up on his Old Trafford exit in an emotional final interview withManchester United’s official channel.
Speaking at the club’s training ground, and at Old Trafford alongside his family, he said: “It’s been very difficult, the last couple of years. There’s no denying that. There is no hiding away from that. My family have been absolutely instrumental in keeping me on the straight and narrow and keeping me focused, to try to get fit and try to play more.
“And, you know, I’ve missed playing football. I missed it. You grow up playing football and all you want to do is play football. It’s all I’ve known, from such a young age, is to do what you love doing for a living. I’ve been fortunate enough to do that, albeit not as much as I would have liked.
“I’ve worked tirelessly hard. I literally left no stone unturned. I tried to get back as quick as I could, every time I was out in the last couple of years. I think the highlight for me would have to be the Wolves game [his return from injury last season], when I came back.
“That was just a moment that I’ll never forget. It gives me goosebumps now, thinking about it. I mean I worked so, so hard to get to that stage of fitness.
“That was a huge, huge moment in my career and the fans, that day, were incredible. The love that they showed me for that game, the passion that they showed, was sensational. And I can’t thank them enough for that. They’ve been a constant support throughout my time here.”
Darren Fletcher presents Phil Jones with a parting gift 📸 pic.twitter.com/cVxH61bkTS
— utdreport (@utdreport) May 19, 2023
Jones also penned an emotional open letter to United fans after the news was announced on Friday morning.
“My time at United has been nothing short of incredible,” he wrote. “When I decided to leave Blackburn, I always wanted to prove myself further. I’d represented my boyhood club, and lived a dream, but I was desperate to show everyone what I could do at the highest level.
“I had this hunger inside me, I was desperate to continue that at a club that could challenge for everything. I had offers from a few places, but I was waiting and waiting for the call from United. One day, on holiday, the phone rang and it was Sir Alex. I left my holiday that day; I couldn’t wait to meet him.
“I couldn’t wait to sign and, most of all, I couldn’t wait to get started. There was only one club where I wanted to continue my journey in the game. To wear this shirt just once, to wear this badge and represent everyone associated with it, was an honour.”
You can read the rest of Jones’ letter below:
The defender will now take some time before deciding his next move.