Sir Alex Ferguson has made a shock swoop for Blackburn defender Phil Jones.
The England under 21 international was due to undergo a medical at Manchester United today after Rovers accepted a £16m bid for their highly-rated centre back.
Ferguson stepped in after interest from Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish, forced his hand.
The United boss was understood to have been prepared to wait until next summer to sign Jones – but realised he had to move quickly with Liverpool ready to pounce.
Ferguson has already reluctantly had to shelve his interest in Sunderland midfielder, Jordan Henderson, who is set to move to Anfield in a £20m deal.
But he refused to watch another England starlet slip from his grasp, making Jones his first signing of what is expected to be a busy summer of rebuilding at Old Trafford.
Ferguson is also hoping to tie up deals for £15m Aston Villa forward, Ashley Young, and Atletico Madrid’s £18m goalkeeper, David de Gea as he bids to bridge the gap between his Premier League champions and Champions League winners, Barcelona.
Wesley Sneijder, Luka Modric and Jack Rodwell are also targets.
19-year-old Jones is seen as a long-term successor for Rio Ferdinand.
Alongside Chris Smalling, Ferguson will hope he has a central defensive partnership that can lead club and country for years to come.
Jones was one of the highlights of Blackburn’s battle to avoid relegation last season, prompting interest from Liverpool and Arsenal before United made their move.
Tweeting about him, Wayne Rooney said: "Phil jones is a good young English player. One of the toughest defenders I played against last season. Can play midfield too."