Manchester United CONFIRM Phil Jones is leaving the club

BREAKING NEWS: Manchester United CONFIRM Phil Jones is leaving the club this summer as he admits ‘it’s been difficult’ not playing and plans to take time out before deciding on his career

Manchester United have confirmed that Phil Jones is leaving Old Trafford after 12 years at the club.

Jones is United’s longest-serving player after joining from Blackburn Rovers in June 2011 in a £16.5million deal.

But the 31-year-old former England defender has played just five times in the last three-and-a-half years due to chronic knee trouble, and it was widely expected that he would be released at the end of his contract on June 30.

‘It’s been very difficult, the last couple of years. There’s no denying that. There is no hiding away from that,’ said Jones, who made 229 appearances for United and scored six goals.

‘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.’

Jones made a brief return last year, starting with an emotional comeback against Wolves. ‘I think the highlight for me would have to be the Wolves game,’ he added.

‘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.’

United confirmed that Jones will take time out to consider his next move after Mail Sport revealed that he is facing a battle save his playing career.

He must now decide whether to quit or try and revive his career elsewhere. 

Jones, who was linked with a move to Bordeaux last summer, is only likely to be offered a pay-as-you-play contract due to his lengthy lay-off caused by a cartilage problem in his right knee that required two operations.