Rio Ferdinand was officially unveiled at his first press conference as a Queens Park Rangers player on Monday having agreed a one-year contract with the club after the expiration of his deal with Manchester United.
After it was announced Ferdinand would be leaving Manchester United after an illustrious 12-year spell at Old Trafford it had been expected that he would either pursue a lucrative move overseas or retire from the game.
However, Ferdinand was keen to continue to challenge himself at the top level and found the opportunity to be reunited in the Premier League with Harry Redknapp, and to return to London, too tempting to resist.
But, as Ferdinand has revealed, the ideal scenario would have been for him to remain at Manchester United. The 35-year-old held encouraging discussions with Ryan Giggs during his interim management, and was informed he would remain part of the club’s plans.
This, however, was not a view shared by Louis van Gaal after the confirmation of his appointment, and the club decided under his guidance that Ferdinand would not be retained - something he had to accept.
Not wanted by Van Gaal
"[Giggs and I] had that chat when he got the job, he had to look at it as if he would still be there and he did tell me I would have stayed and been a part of his plans," Ferdinand said at his press conference.
"But things change quickly, the new manager came in and wanted a new direction. I dusted myself down and moved on.
"I said at the time that Man United would have to tell me they didn't want me for me to leave the club. That's what happened they said 'thank you and goodbye’.”
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The departure of Ferdinand along with that of Nemanja Vidic, a pair to have a played a combined total of 755 matches for the club, has yet to result in the acquisition of another central defender, but will do so before the close of the transfer window.
Van Gaal does have Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones among his number, but more experience is clearly required. Add to this that the former Netherlands coach plans to operate with a back three and central defensive reinforcements are imperative.
Thomas Vermaelen would appear the most likely candidate to move to the club in the coming weeks, with the Belgium international having dropped down the ranks at Arsenal. The signing of Calum Chambers has provided the Gunners with another option in this position, and may result in Vermaelen’s sale.
Also linked with Manchester United is Mats Hummels. The World Cup winner would appear to be the favoured choice of Van Gaal, but would prove more expensive and perhaps more difficult to sign than Vermaelen.