Sir Alex Ferguson has predicted a glittering future for Phil Jones and paid tribute to the England international's versatility, although the boss sees him as a natural centre-half.
Describing the 21-year-old as an "animal for football", the boss also outlined some of his plans for the defensive positions in the coming years during his exclusive interview with Inside United.
Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans also look certain to compete for a centre-back slot, Jones' preferred position, but that United's no.4 has the ability to perform all over the pitch marks him out as a special talent.
"Jonny's been really brilliant this season," enthused Sir Alex. "He's 25 years old now and, hopefully for the next six or seven years, he could be a regular centre-back for us. Obviously, Rio [Ferdinand] is 34 now and [Nemanja] Vidic is 31. [Patrice] Evra is 31 so, in that sense, players like Smalling, Jones and Evans will come to the fore.
"Jones is going to be a fantastic player, his talent is unbelievable. Yes [his best position is centre-back] but you could play him anywhere. I think you could play him centre-forward! He’s just
"He’s just one of those unusual players you get now and again who can play anywhere. We’ve not had a player like him in terms of someone who can play at that performance level since, well the closest you would get would be Brian McClair."
- Sir Alex Ferguson
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