United and Chelsea battle for 'best young player in the UK'

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Sunderland manager Steve Bruce says midfielder Jordan Henderson deserves his expected England call, but has some harsh words for clubs lining up bids for the youngster.

Henderson can play on the right or in a central position, and is on the radars of Premier League titans Manchester United and Chelsea.

Bruce rates Henderson very highly, and recently said: "Jordan is the brightest young prospect in the British game," said Bruce.

"He's a fantastic footballer and he has got the world at his feet. He's got the lot. Jordan has everything you need from the modern-day player – he has a lovely feel for the ball but he's also 6ft 2in and has terrific energy."

"He's certainly the biggest, the best young British footballer there is. At 20 years old he's got the world at his feet. He's a fantastic footballer," Bruce continued.

That is quite a statement when there is players such as Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, Newcastle's Andy Carroll, Blackburn's Phil Jones and Manchester United duo Danny Welbeck and Chris Smalling, to name just a few, who it could also be argued fit that mantle.

Henderson is hot property and one that Bruce is determined not to lose. But Bruce's hand could be turned if one of the reported big boys comes in with an offer of £20 million plus, which is the price being put on Henderson's head.

Such has been Henderson's rapid progress on Wearside, Sunderland's manager should be forgiven if his endeavours remind him of his days as the Old Trafford skipper when the so-called Fergie's Fledglings took English football by storm but, unlike Sir Alex Ferguson, Bruce knows he will have a fight on his hands to keep the midfielder if he continues to prosper.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is still a good friend of Steve Bruce's and it is believed that he sees Henderson as the ideal replacement for Paul Scholes.

Scholes is still Manchester United's key man and has proved this on many occasions this season. Ferguson knows that if he can lure Henderson to Old Trafford now, then he will have a year playing under 'Satnav' Scholes' tutelage.

United have the money to spend, as the Glazers have promised Ferguson a hefty transfer kitty, and it may be that Sir Alex calls on old friend Bruce for a favour. Bruce knows how hard it can be for a youngster to turn down a move to Old Trafford when they come calling.

"That will be our biggest challenge, keeping Jordan. If they do their homework they'll all come calling for him. He's played fantastically for us for 18 months but then he scored a great goal for the Under-21s, the England manager was there and all of a sudden we're awash with talk about Jordan.

"But here we've got everything in place so I will do my utmost not to dismantle this team. However, I'm a realist I remember me at Norwich when Man United came in for me. It wasn't about money, I wanted to go." said Bruce in a recent interview.

Manchester United are not Henderson's only potential suitors though. In a recent draw with Blackburn, 10 managers from other clubs were in attendance to watch Henderson, including Chelsea's Carlo Ancelotti.

The Chelsea boss is also on the look out for a replacement for a current England great. Frank Lampard is now 32-years-old and coming towards the end of his peak, and with a long term injury already this season, it is unclear how injuries will affect him in the long run.

Chelsea see Henderson as a perfect replacement as he is a midfield player who loves to get forward.

Chelsea know they will have a battle on their hands trying to pursuade ex-Manchester United defender Bruce to part with his prized possession, but Ancelotti has convinced Roman Ambramovic to fund him with enough money to make Sunderland an offer they cant refuse.

However the Black Cats boss is standing firm, "If someone like Real Madrid comes in and offers us £30m we've got a problem," said Bruce.

"But Jordan's not for sale. I've seen stories talking about potential £20m bids for him – but £20m would not be enough."


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Jordan Henderson
Premier League
Manchester United

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