Usually when MLS clubs come sniffing for a big name player, he’s usually in his 30’s and past his best, like Beckham, Henry and Marquez before. And the latest player to be linked with a move to America is our very own fan favourite, Rio Ferdinand.
Rio though hasn’t always been a Fan favourite, there was a time about 5-6 years ago when it seemed that he’d betray us and sign for the then rampant Chelsea. But he did stay with the club and the next few seasons saw the best of Rio on display, as he and Vidic formed an impervious barrier in front of the goal, which most teams struggled to breach. The duo formed one of the best defensive pairing in the world and was the main driving force behind our back to back titles in 2006-07, 07-08 and 08-09 & also the Champions league victory in 2008!
But the last two seasons haven’t been the best for Rio, plagued with injuries; he’s spent more time on the treatment table than on the pitch and this season also saw him struck down with an injury on the opening weekend of the league. And even though he’s back to full fitness, he now faces an uphill battle to reclaim the starting position from Phil Jones and Jonny Evans. Once Vidic also returns to full fitness, Rio’s chances of starting a game go down further.
Another thing to consider is his enormous wages, he’s the second highest paid player in the team. But the number of games Rio has played over the last few seasons doesn’t justify his enormous wage, while a few seasons ago it would have been unfathomable to even entertain the thought that we should sell him, and every injury he had would see us counting down to his eventual return to the team. Now, with the emergence of Jones and Smalling and also Jonny Evans starting to again prove himself as a top defender, Rio’s chances of starting matches is less too.
On the other hand, Rio has enormous experience and has always returned from injury in top form, we’ve seen this happen so often. Unlike most other players, Rio doesn’t require too many games to get back to top form; usually he does in his first game back! Also Rio’s experience of having played at the very top of the game for so long is invaluable, and is something any team in the world would kill for!
There are 2 more important factors one must take into account, First is Sir Alex, It’s rare to see any player he wants to keep leave the club but at the same time he never begrudges a player a move they badly want to make, like with Pique and Rossi. And the other factor is, with the emergence of Jones, Evans and Smalling, Rio’s chances in the starting XI will diminish, so will he be happy playing second fiddle to the youngsters and become a bit part player like Michael Owen?
A move to the MLS could mean a longer contract for a lot of money, a final payday for him. And also the U.S market gives him a chance to expand his businesses outside football, become a la Beckham in America?
If Rio were to extend his contract at the club, it would surely mean taking a pay cut, so it all comes down to whether Rio would like to see out his career at United or move abroad for a huge final pay day for the last few years of his career. So it comes down to what Rio prefers, but no matter what he does, I think he’s already gone in United annals as one among the best defenders to play at the Theatre of Dreams and no one can take that away from him.
So to summarise I think Rio is past his best but he’s still easily among the top defenders in the League, and with his vast experience he has a lot to offer to the team. I would love to see him stay at the club but whether he will do so, finally comes down to what he wants and also what Sir Alex has to decide. But I think he’s still good enough for any top team in the league.