Rio Ferdinand has enjoyed a successful decade at Old Trafford.
Just a week after turning 34, the centreback has confirmed he will seriously consider his future at Christmas.
The Englishman has made it clear he won't be rushed into a quick decision. Options remain open for a player who could embark upon a number of routes across the next 12 months.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson would like to extend Ferdinand's contract for an extra year, although the defender isn't going to be swayed by niceties.
He spoke to Inside United, as reported by Sky Sports:
It is always good to hear the manager say things like that.
But you have to take every week and month as it comes. The best thing I can do is to look at it at Christmas, and then again in the summer, to see how I'm feeling.
But hearing the manager say things like that definitely puts a spring back in your step.
The defender has contributed a mixed start to the current Premier League campaign. Although his early season form drew many criticisms, the experienced player has upped his game in recent weeks.
His progression is coming through a vital change in mindset. Ferdinand has never been the most intelligent player on the pitch—his career has largely rested on athletic ability and strength.
With his legs beginning to creak, the former Leeds man is placing greater emphasis on ensuring his positioning is correct.
It's a work in progress at this point.
Although it's always welcome to keep experienced players in the squad, Ferdinand's future could be decided by his form. Ferguson is likely to offer a contract extension no matter what, but the player himself is more likely to question whether or not he can cut it at the top level.
After all, Gary Neville once claimed he knew the moment he had to retire: when Peter Odemwingie continued to torment his lack of pace at the Hawthorns.
If Ferdinand decides to pack his bags and leave Old Trafford, where should he go?
West Ham have expressed an interest in landing their former employee. A return to East London would allow Ferdinand to move closer to his family and back to where he grew up.
Sam Allardyce has wasted no time confirming West Ham's ambition to land the player.
The Hammers boss spoke to The Daily Mail at the end of October:
If it's at the end of the season and he hasn't got a new contract and he is released by Manchester United, then we would be interested.
If he wants to live back in London eventually, which is where he comes from, which you know quite a few players want to do when they come to the end of their careers, that is an advantage for us.
It depends entirely on Rio or which other clubs might be interested in him.
Should United release Ferdinand, it's highly likely a wealth of clubs will try to land his signature.
Perhaps the Englishman is looking for a big money move to Asia? He could potentially join Frank Lampard in the Chinese Super League if he's looking to bolster his bank account.
I believe Ferdinand should head towards the MLS or retire if he leaves Manchester United. He has noticeably lost a few yards across the last year.
A stint at another Premier League club could highlight this more intensely.
It would be disappointing to see the veteran finish his career on anything other than a high note. Does the 34-year-old want to put himself through the turmoils of playing for a club that is likely to finish mid-table at best?
It's a decision that will tell us plenty about Ferdinand's mindset.
Many suitors await if the Old Trafford door closes. Right now, the next few months will decide whether or not Ferdinand should willingly say goodbye to his United colleagues.
Should Rio Ferdinand commit his future to Manchester United?
Where should he play his football next season?
Should he be playing at all?
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