Rio Ferdinand's advisors have confirmed contract talks with Manchester United are progressing nicely and that he could sign a new deal later this week. Ferdinand's representatives told Sky Sports: "Talks regarding Rio's new contract are moving along nicely and hopefully we will have some news soon."
Ferdinand's contract is set to expire this summer, and if signed, the new one-year deal would extent the veteran defender's stay at Old Trafford to 12 years.
Having watched the defender this season, there's little doubting that a new deal is the right move for the Red Devils to make.
Ferdinand—despite his age and supposed dip in form—has been a stalwart at the back and has been instrumental in their Premier League victory. In fact, according to BBC Sport, the England international made more appearances in central defense than any other United defender this season—such was his importance and consistency in 2013.
He was named into the PFA's Team of the Year as a result of that and drew incredible praise from manager Sir Alex Ferguson in the process, as reported by BBC Sport:
Rio Ferdinand has had his best season at the club. We have had continual problems with the centre-backs being fit. Nemanja Vidic has missed half a season, Chris Smalling has missed most of the season, Phil Jones missed a good bit and Jonny Evans missed parts but Rio has managed his situation very well.
Ferguson also added, "at the most important times, he has been there," and there could seemingly be no greater compliment for Ferdinand's this season.
The 34-year-old didn't chalked up incredible numbers in terms of tackles, interceptions or clearances, according to WhoScored, but he has been consistent.
He didn't allowed opposing players to get in behind the United back line, and despite a growing injury toll, he remained as strong and focused as ever.
His performances against some of the best attacking players in the world—Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard—showed just how dominant he can be and just how important he will be to the long-term success of the Red Devils. For while Ferdinand deserves a new deal courtesy of his on-field performances, it's also his wisdom and experience that United cannot afford to lose next year.
Especially with a new manager running the show in 2013.
Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling are going to be pushing for a starting berth, and the wisdom of Ferdinand will be key in developing the future of those two players—as well as their relationship with new manager David Moyes.
Should he leave this summer (or not be given a new deal), the reality is that it is that experience and leadership that United would most miss about Ferdinand.
United have a strong future in central defense and will be able to survive if Ferdinand takes a backwards step or two next year. At worst, it just gave them another 12 months of his experience and knowledge.
But at best, it'll give them another 12 months with one of the best Premier League defenders ever and a huge step towards a successful title defense in 2013.
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