Updated at 21.57
RIO FERDINAND CONFIRMED tonight that he will leave Manchester United during the close-season.
Ferdinand has lost his place in the United team over the last two years due to a series of injuries and it had been widely expected the former England defender would be allowed to quit Old Trafford at the end of this season.
The 35-year-old’s contract expires in July and he has revealed he will not be signing an extension after regularly being left out in favour Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling this term.
In a statement on his website, Ferdinand said: “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 made his last appearance for United on Sunday when he played in their 1-1 draw at Southampton on the final day of the Premier League campaign.
His departure brings an end to a glorious 12-year stay at United, during which time he won six league titles, two League Cups, one Champions League and a Club World Cup.
Ferdinand made 454 appearances, scoring eight goals, following his then British record £30 million ($50 million, 36 million euros) transfer from Leeds in 2002.
The ex-England captain has no desire to retire and is now looking for a new club.
“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,” Ferdinand added.
“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.”
First published at 21.00