Rio Ferdinand to ignore MLS interest and focus on Manchester United and England says agent

 

Rio Ferdinand intends to ignore any overtures from Major League Soccer and concentrate fully on winning his place back for Manchester United and England.

After being left out of United's starting line-up for the weekend win over Norwich, Ferdinand was then ignored by Fabio Capello for England's Euro 2012 qualifier with Montenegro on Friday.

Given Phil Jones' outstanding form following his summer arrival from Blackburn, there has been plenty of speculation that Ferdinand, who is nearly 33 and has been plagued by fitness problems for three years, might be eased out at Old Trafford.

With that backdrop, it is not a surprise that ambitious MLS outfit Chicago Fire have emerged as a potential suitor.

However, now into his 10th season at United, Ferdinand has made it perfectly clear he still feels there is a major role for him to play with the Red Devils.

"It has been a very frustrating period for all concerned," Ferdinand's long-standing friend and representative Jamie Moralee told Press Association Sport.

"What he wants to do is put his injuries behind him and start showing the form that even last season he produced against some of the very best forwards in the world.

"Rio understands there is some great talent at Manchester United. But he is up for the challenge of that and I am sure he has a big part to play.

"He is now in his 10th season at United. He still has a great hunger and desire to win trophies. It is the type of challenge he thrives on."

Ferdinand has never been a stereotypical footballer.

His wide-ranging business interests, including his own restaurant in Manchester and digital magazine, emphasise how he will not be short of things to occupy his mind when retirement eventually beckons.

However, having been part of a club where Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Edwin van der Sar have all starred at the top level well into their 30s, Ferdinand does not believe that day is looming just yet.

However, having spent this summer in the United States with United - where Chicago were one of their opponents on a very successful pre-season tour - it is easy to see why the defender would be so attractive, given the boost in profile the MLS has received from the arrivals of Ferdinand's one-time team-mate David Beckham and former Arsenal star Thierry Henry.

"I understand the reasons why someone like Rio would be attractive to them," said Moralee.

"There is an appeal on and off the pitch because he could help retain the global status provided by Beckham and Henry.

"But I must stress, these stories are nothing to do with Rio.

"We have never discussed anything beyond life at Manchester United because that is all he cares about."

To the extent that Ferdinand has been actively helping Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and even striker Danny Welbeck on the training ground.

Welbeck spoke warmly about the former West Ham skipper yesterday, insisting there is no way anyone should start writing him off just yet.

It is a message Ferdinand is keen to get out himself.

"When you enter your 10th year at a club, a testimonial is something in the background, but that is something else that has never been discussed either," said Moralee.

"It doesn't matter whether it is the 10th year, the 11th year or the 13th, when the time is right, we will sit down with the club and talk about it.

"But for now it is not on the agenda. The only thing that matters is getting back out on the pitch for Manchester United on a regular basis again because there is so much he still wants to achieve with them."

PA

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