Manchester United are creating a fairly cavernous hole in the middle of their defence, as Rio Ferdinand announced he is to leave the club. He follows longtime central defensive partner Nemanja Vidic in exiting Old Trafford this summer.
Ferdinand has been at Old Trafford for 12 years, but with his contract running out this summer, the club have decided not to offer him a new deal. He is not set to retire, though, and will investigate new opportunities both within the Premier League and abroad, per Jamie Jackson of The Guardian.
The former England defender issued a statement on his personal website regarding his departure:
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.
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 yrs [sic] that I'll never forget.
Whilst fans will be expecting new signings, there has been more news regarding players who will not be joining the club this summer.
One of those players is Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus, who confirmed he will be staying with the German club for at least another year. The German international midfielder, who has a £29.4 million buy-out clause in his contract, told Kicker (h/t Simon Rice of The Independent):
It's safe to say I will be playing for Borussia Dortmund also in the 2014-15 season. ...
Basically I do not need to stress all the time that I am feeling great being with the club. As far as leaving [Borussia Dortmund] that is no issue for me, and I am not affected by the transfer release clause. ...
I am now at an age where I have to take the next step up. That means: in every game to give even more and to push myself to get better and better.
Pjanic told reporters after the contract signing: “I am very happy. The negotiations were lengthy because I wanted to stay focused on the season but I had never thought about leaving Roma.”
The Red Devils had been linked with a move for the Bosnia and Herzegovina international, per Liam Prenderville of The Mirror, but this new deal seems to have put an end to their hopes of tempting him to Manchester.
GRAPHIC: Miralem Pjanic is wanted by many clubs in Europe. Great season for Pjana! pic.twitter.com/QzimOTuQKc— BiHFootball (@BiHFootball) May 11, 2014
United suffered a frustrating summer last year when numerous targets were not brought to the club, so they will be desperate to avoid the same scenario occurring again. However, without a manager in place this becomes all the more difficult.
Louis van Gaal looks set to be the next man in charge, per Jeremy Cross of the Daily Star, but with the Dutchman in charge of his national side at the World Cup, he may not take the reins at Old Trafford for many weeks.
LVG: "You should ask Man Utd about my contract"— jamie jackson (@JamieJackson___) May 13, 2014
With large parts of the defence and midfield needing to be strengthened, the pressure is on to make some signings before the best players on the planet depart for the World Cup.