Manchester United have signed Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones, gazumping Liverpool at the last minute in signing the talented teenager.

Jones looked set for a move to Merseyside but the centreback is now on the verge of announcing his switch to United, whose bid of £16m triggered the 19-year-old’s buyout clause.

Jones, who will travel to Denmark today with the England squad for the European Under-21 Championships, would have become the second highly-rated English youngster Liverpool had signed after reaching an agreement with Sunderland last night to secure Jordan Henderson’s services.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has been tracking the player for the past 18 months with a view to him succeeding Rio Ferdinand in the long-term at Old Trafford. Ferguson, armed with a £50m summer transfer kitty, has been looking for a young central defender and 18-year-old Lens star Raphael Varane was reported as a target.

Jones, who has also been a target for Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham, made 26 league appearances for Blackburn last season and has been a key player since making his debut in March 2010.

Jones, who can also play as a defensive midfielder, is unlikely to play as much at Old Trafford as he might have done for Liverpool, but the lure of playing for the Premier League champions proved too difficult to turn down. He will compete for a starting spot with centre-backs Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans.