- Premier League
United want Ferdinand return
Manchester United want Rio Ferdinand to return to Old Trafford in an ambassadorial role in the future, a source told ESPN.
The centre-back announced on Monday that he will leave United when his contract expires this summer.
But United have told the 35-year-old that they are grateful for his service over the past 12 years and view him as a club legend and they hope he will be involved at Old Trafford in years to come.
- Rio Ferdinand said he was denied the opportunity for the send-off he would have liked at after it emerged he would not be kept on by Manchester United.
- He did not play in the club's final home game of the season against Hull last week when tributes were paid to his central defensive partner Nemanja Vidic, who is joining Inter Milan, and bowed out at Southampton instead.
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Six former United greats are currently official ambassadors for the club - Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Bryan Robson, Gary Neville, Andy Cole and Peter Schmeichel - and, while it is not confirmed that Ferdinand would be granted the same status, the Old Trafford hierarchy are keen for him to play a part in some capacity when his playing days are over.
Ferdinand is unlikely to retire now and suggested in a statement about his departure that he will look to play on elsewhere.
He was United's record signing when he joined from Leeds in 2002 and made 455 appearances for the club, winning six Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008.
The timing of his departure denied him a proper farewell, unlike his long-time centre-back partner Nemanja Vidic, but United want to recognise his achievements.
Former United striker Dwight Yorke has described Ferdinand as "colossal".
Yorke, who was at Old Trafford from 1998 to 2002, believes the departure of Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic represents the end of an era for the club.
"The word colossal comes into play as that's the type of player that Ferdinand was," Yorke said. "It doesn't come as a surprise but it's an end of an era for himself and Nemanja Vidic - it's unbelievable the amount of success they've had.
"Rio can leave that football club with his head held incredibly high in terms of what he has achieved."
The decision to let Ferdinand go ignores the advice of interim manager Ryan Giggs, who insisted earlier this month the defender could still make a useful contribution and should be offered a new deal.
United midfielder Michael Carrick, who on Monday missed out on a place in Roy Hodgson's England squad for the World Cup, took to Twitter to air his views:
While former United defender Gary Neville added:
So it looks like Rio and Vida allowed to leave at once!!! A conveyor belt has become a cliff!— Gary Neville (@GNev2) May 12, 2014
This article originally appeared on ESPN FC