Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has revealed he will leave Old Trafford at the end of the season.
The former England international, 35, struggled to stay fit in 2013/14 — featuring in just 14 of the Reds’ English Premier League fixtures.
All in all, Ferdinand has made 455 appearances in all competitions for United and won 15 trophies, including six Premier League titles, five Community Shields, two League Cups , one FIFA Club World Cup and one UEFA Champions League title.
The 35-year-old had been tipped to leave the club he joined from Leeds United for a fee believed to be in the region of £30 million following the ’emergence’ of Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones.
With his current deal set to expire on 30 June, Ferdinand has now confirmed he will not be a Manchester United player next season.
“I have thought long and hard over the last few months about my future and, after 12 fantastic years playing for what I regard as the best club in the world, I have decided the time is right for me to move on,” Ferdinand said.
“I joined Manchester United in the hope of winning trophies, and never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how successful we would be during my time here.
“There have been so many highlights, playing alongside some great players who have become good friends, winning my first Premier League title and also that fantastic night in Moscow are memories that I will cherish forever.
“Circumstances didn’t allow for me to say goodbye the way I would have liked but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my team-mates, staff, the club and the fans for an unbelievable 12 years that I’ll never forget. Winning trophies I dreamed about as a kid came true at this great club.
“I am feeling fit and healthy, ready for a new challenge and looking forward to whatever the future holds for me.”
Ferdinand’s exit leaves the Reds with a ‘colossal’ hole to fill, according to former Manchester United forward Dwight Yorke, and understandably so.
“The word colossal comes into play as that’s the type of player that Ferdinand was,” Yorke told Sky Sports.
“It doesn’t come as a surprise but it’s an end of an era for himself and Nemanja Vidic – it’s unbelievable the amount of success they’ve had.
“Rio can leave that football club with his head held incredibly high in terms of what he has achieved.”
Who will replace Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic — who has already agreed a pre-contract with Italian giants Internazionale — at Old Trafford? Ezequiel Garay? Nicolas Otamendi?