By Manchester correspondent Alex Stevens
Arsenal are taking a close interest in Manchester United’s failure to tie Phil Jones down to a new contract.
The Gunners made an enquiry for the versatile England international last summer and are once again closely monitoring his situation ahead of a possible summer bid.
Jones is out of contract in the summer of 2016 and has yet to open talks with United on an extension to his deal.
His team-mate and fellow defender Chris Smalling, whose contract expires at the same time, is also on Arsenal’s radar but the London club regard Jones more highly.
Arsenal tried to sign the 23-year-old when he left Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 2011 but lost out to United, who paid £16million for him.
Given that he is out of contract next year, Jones is now valued at around the £15m mark. He is admired by Arsene Wenger and his staff for his ability to play at right-back and in central midfield as well as his favourite centre-back position.
Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Jones as a future United great shortly before he stepped down as manager although injuries and inconsistent form have halted the player’s progress over the last two seasons.
He has started just over half – 17 – of United’s 30 Premier League matches in the current campaign but has been at the heart of the team’s recent return to form.
Jones and Smalling formed a resolute partnership in defence in United’s 2-1 win at Liverpool last Sunday, regarded as one of the best performances of the season by Louis van Gaal’s team.