Phil Jones, Blackburn's much-touted teenage defender, has given the biggest hint yet as to where his future may lie should he leave Ewood Park. The 19-year-old, who will represent England in this summer's Under-21 European Championship, has been linked with a host of clubs including Manchester United, Liverpool, and Spurs. However it is Arsène Wenger's Arsenal whose style Jones most admires.
"I think Arsenal play the prettiest football in the Premier League," Jones said. "Obviously money helps. Having more money allows you to play in a certain way, but that's the beauty of the Premier League – there are so many different styles. You know it's not easy for Arsenal to go to Stoke and win a game there anymore. It's not knocking anyone's style, it's just the nature of the Premier League and that's why everyone loves it."
Arsenal are known to have been monitoring Jones, alongside his team-mate Steven N'zonzi, but Blackburn have made it clear anyone looking to prise the home-grown player from the club will pay a high price. Arsenal may also face competition from Liverpool, with manager Kenny Dalglish showing an interest. You might expect Jones to favour a link-up with the Scot; after all, it was Dalglish who delivered the title to Blackburn – the club Jones has supported since childhood. However, as Jones points out, he was only three years old in 1995, too young to remember the success under Dalglish.
Jones insists all the transfer talk has not distracted him from his commitment to a Blackburn side still fighting relegation. "I can't afford to think about any of that, I just need to be concentrating on keeping Blackburn up," he said. "I tend not to read the papers or listen to what the pundits say about me. My mates will tell me they saw me in the newspaper linked to this club and that club, but to be honest it goes in one ear and out the other."
Manager Steve Kean has said Blackburn probably only need two more points to be sure of safety but Jones says the players will not be playing for a draw at West Ham on Saturday. "Perhaps we do only need two more, but you can't go into any game thinking we only need a point."
As for his own future he says: "Obviously I want to win things, and hopefully play for England at senior level. Representing your country is a massive achievement."