Ferdinand not leaving Manchester United

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has stated that defender Rio Ferdinand still plays a key part in his future plans, and will not leave the Premier League champions.

The veteran centre half has been linked with a big-money move to the MLS, as his spot in the Old Trafford starting XI has not been guaranteed due to increased competition for places.

However, Ferguson has dismissed speculation that the England international could leave, and feels he can compete at the highest level for another couple of years.

“Rio’s been a great player for us and it’s important to explain his present position,” the United boss told Sky Sports.

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, absolutely not. I have no issues at all with Rio, he can play for another couple of years quite easily.

“He’s got a part to play. He’s got experience and he’s good in the dressing room, players look up to him.

“He’s a big figure in our dressing room, so that will continue. I have no thoughts of letting him go,” the Scottish coach stated.

Ferguson did admit that Ferdinand has lost some of his pace as the years have taken their toll, but the inclusion of the likes of Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones in the United line-up is merely a contingency plan for when the veteran does hang up his boots.

“Rio is not as quick as he was five years ago, that happens. People do lose their pace but he’s adjusting his game accordingly.

“We’ve been building a team for the day Gary Neville and Ferdinand left, it’s a fact.

“We have to look ahead and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn’t mean that Rio looks upon it as the end of his football life,” he concluded.

By Gareth McKnight