Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand has decided to end his 12-year association with the Red Devils – but has he chosen the right time to leave the club?
The 35-year-old, once the most expensive defender in the world, has been a stalwart at the back for United, helping the club win six Premier League titles, two League Cups and the Champions League.
But he was restricted to just 12 league starts in the 2013-14 season, having fallen down the Old Trafford pecking order, and missed out on a place in the matchday squad on 27 occasions (in all competitions).
As such, Ferdinand has decided to exit the club he joined from Leeds United in 2002, saying he is “fit and healthy, [and] ready for a new challenge.”
His exit also coincides with Nemanja Vidic’s move to Inter, while Patrice Evra could also depart when his contract expires this summer as United’s experienced back-line is disbanded.
Have United been too quick to allow their seasoned campaigners to leave, or is it time for youth to take over at Old Trafford? Is Ferdinand's career best served away from Manchester, where he can play every week, or is he no longer cut out for top-flight football?
Has Ferdinand left prematurely? Did he still have more to offer United or was he no longer maintaining the standards he once set? Would his experience still have been invaluable to United even if his performances had dipped?
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