United bag defender Jones

Manchester United have gazumped Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham by signing Blackburn Rovers' England U21 defender Phil Jones, in a deal worth £16m.

The Premier League champions will now set about recuperating that money by accepting Sunderland's £12m bid for Wes Brown, John O'Shea and Darron Gibson.

Liverpool had been favourites to sign the 19-year-old centre half, until Manchester United stepped in to activate the £16m release clause in the player's contract.

In the end, the lure of London's bright lights wasn't enough for Jones, who, raised in Leyland, Lancashire, was keen to stay up north. With the pursuit of trophies Jones's top priority, he chose Manchester over Liverpool, even though he'll have to get past Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic for a place in the first team.

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp admited that his club had been outmuscled in the pursuit of Jones: 'We tried to sign him. He's an amazing talent. It looks like one day he could be an England centre-half for many years to come,' he said.

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