After much speculation over the past few months, Manchester United and Rio Ferdinand finally confirmed yesterday that the former England captain would be leaving Old Trafford after twelve years at the club.
With Nemanja Vidic’s transfer to Inter Milan already agreed, the club are undertaking a changing of the guard in the centre of their defence.
In a statement yesterday, Ferdinand indicated his intentions to continue playing by saying: “I am feeling fit and healthy, ready for a new challenge and looking forward to whatever the future holds for me.”
The £29.1 million defender also implied that it was his decision by declaring: “I have decided the time is right for me to move on”, although it is believed that the club decided against extending his current deal.
Regardless, many United fans took to Twitter to thank Ferdinand for his time at Old Trafford.
Sad news about Rio still has one more great season in him & to me one of the best English centre halves ever. All the best @rioferdy5
— Paddy Crerand (@PatCrerand) May 12, 2014
Regardless, no one can deny Rio Ferdinand used to be world-class at his job.
— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) May 12, 2014
Gutted if it’s true. The best centre back we’ve had, in my opinion. Made defending look easy! Will miss him..legend! @rioferdy5
— Adam McKola (@AdamMcKola) May 12, 2014
The best united English center back of all time @rioferdy5 the LEGEND. we wish you all the best. The family will miss you. Thank you.
— ThatManUnitedFan (@teeswag1) May 12, 2014
Say what you want about Rio Ferdinand, he’s still the best centre half I’ve seen in my lifetime.
— Richard Surman (@RSurman10) May 12, 2014
Rio Ferdinand snuffed out danger before others had even sniffed it. Aimed to finish each match with clean shorts (ie. not going to ground).
— Nick Coppack (@nickcoppack) May 12, 2014
However, other United and general football fans were less than forgiving in their comments upon the news.
Rio Ferdinand has come to a decision about his future Yeh Utd don’t want ya The poor knackered old donkey
— WD40 (@thedogwayne) May 12, 2014
Rio Ferdinand “I have decided the time is right for me to move on.” No Rio, you’ve not been offered a new contract and told to move on.
— Nick Marshall (@nmarshall1990) May 12, 2014
— Tom Hall (@hallthomas) May 12, 2014
So what if man utd have released Rio. He’s been past if for at least three years. Won’t need to skip the drugs tests now though will he ?
— jonathan jackson (@heatonbantam) May 12, 2014
Rio’s off? Good, I’ll help him pack his bags, couldn’t take a drugs test because he was buying towels or something in Selfridges, tit!
— Lorna Wilde (@HEW02) May 12, 2014
Hi @rioferdy5 do u want picking up from the job centre pal
— The Lu Shwareh (@ThoseScouseLads) May 12, 2014
Dear @SpursOfficial Please do not sign Rio Ferdinand. That is all. Yours sincerely, All Spurs fans.
— Roy T Whale (@RoyTWhale) May 12, 2014
Interest in Ferdinand is rumoured to be strong from the Middle East and MLS, whilst a move to another Premier League side hasn’t been ruled out. Wherever he ends up, Ferdinand and Vidic’s departures truly represent the end of an era at Old Trafford.