Contract talks stall as Ferdinand pushes for more

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At the same time Zahavi insisted that the 26-year-old, who has two years left on his present deal, has no intention of leaving Old Trafford despite reports yesterday linking him again to Real Madrid who are about to off-load central defender Walter Samuel to Internazionale. "I'm sure at the end of the day he will stay," Zahavi said of Ferdinand.

Nevertheless the confirmation that the England defender will definitely not sign the deal on offer from United, which is believed to amount to a salary of £100,000-a-week, will anger the club's fans especially after the support given to him during his eight-month ban for missing a drugs test.

It also contradicts the recent statements from chief executive David Gill who insisted that there was "no stumbling block" despite a three-month wait. It is thought he is pushing for up to £120,000-a-week to reflect what his agent regards as his status as the world's best defender.

Zahavi said: "No one is having talks. There is no need to speak. He has two years [left on his contract]. There was at some stage an idea [for a new contract] but we could not reach an agreement."

Nevertheless the agent insisted that he believed Ferdinand would stay. "He is loyal to Manchester United and does not want to leave." He said it would be an option for the club to say "we give up or we sell on", and they certainly will not allow the player to run down his contract, but Zahavi added that, "both cases are not suited."

United had hoped to secure Ferdinand on an extended deal as soon as possible having already reached agreement with Cristiano Ronaldo who has "shaken hands on" an improved, extended deal having demanded a significant pay rise.

The representatives of United midfielder Kieran Richardson, meanwhile, expect to determine his future in the next few days. The most likely scenario remains that the 20-year-old, who made his England debut in the United States tour, will return on loan to West Bromwich Albion. However it is understood that Tottenham are monitoring the situation and may attempt to hijack the deal by signing the player permanently, while Rangers are also pushing for a loan agreement. It was confirmed yesterday that Quinton Fortune has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a knee injury.

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