Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has dismissed rumours that winger Tom Ince is close to joining Manchester United.
The 21-year-old starlet, who moved to Bloomfield Road from Liverpool on a permanent basis in August 2011, has been earning rave reviews with the Tangerines after an impressive start to the new season. He also helped lead the club to the play-offs last year.
His form has led to strong transfer speculation over the last few weeks, with Goal.com reporting today that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to step-up his £5 million interest in the player.
However, Holloway has been quick to play down the reports, and insists such claims are complete ‘rubbish’.
“It’s absolute rubbish. The way Tom’s playing, the best clubs in the world might want him at the end of the season,” Holloway told a press conference earlier today.
“Manchester United are one of those but I’m sure they would be talking to me first.”
The Blackpool Gazette claims that the club turned down a £5 million offer from Swansea City in the summer transfer window, and that father Paul – who spent six years at Manchester United between 1989 and 1995 – is eager for his son to remain with the Tangerines for the rest of the current campaign at least.
Ince does have senior experience with one of the ‘big’ clubs in the Premier League, making a solitary senior appearance for Liverpool as a substitute in the Reds’ League Cup defeat to Northampton Town at Anfield.
A brief loan spell at Notts County followed, but after failing to become a regular in first-team activities on his return to Liverpool, Kenny Dalglish allowed the player to leave Merseyside.
The youngster has flourished under Holloway, earning England U21 recognition in 2012, and his manager has even gone as far as to suggest he’s playing as well as the likes of two top Englishman at the Emirates Stadium.
“To play for England you seem to have to play for one of the big four, as they don’t pick anyone unless Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson think they are brilliant. No-one listens when I say someone’s good,” he added.
“I told Stuart Pearce the other week that in my opinion Tom Ince is playing better than Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott. Just because he’s in the Championship playing for us, it shouldn’t make a difference.”
Either way, a move to Manchester United is starting to look highly unlikely in January.