Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand has opened talks over a new contract but is on collision course with the club after being asked to take a £50,000-a-week pay cut.
Ferdinand’s current deal runs until June 2013 but Sir Alex Ferguson is keen to offer him a new one-year rolling deal with a view to to the 33-year-old staying at Old Trafford until at least 2014.
But the club’s owners, the Glazer family, have indicated during early dialogue that they want Ferdinand to accept a huge decrease on his current £120,000-a-week salary before bonuses.
Ferdinand is aware of interest from America, Russia and China and while his preference would be to stay at United, he wants a deal that reflects his value to the team.
Discussions over a new deal for the England international are likely to be protracted but the club’s medical staff believe he can play at the top level until he is 35.
Ferdinand has made 37 appearances in all competitions for United this season, proving he is able to handle his much-publicised back problem. He is likely to start the club’s final game of the season against Sunderland on Sunday having produced impressive performances having adapted his game as he has started to dip physically.
"Rio's still young for a centre-back," Ferguson said in March. "I think it's all down to how he feels physically and what he is doing at the moment is good. He has no issues at all.
"I think from time to time he gets the odd tweak in his back and we have to manage it and look after it.
"He's adapting really well to the challenge of making sure he is fit and fresh to play in the games where we need him."
While Ferdinand is hopeful of signing a new deal and there have been no concrete expressions of interest from other clubs, he would not be short of offers should he decide to leave United.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp tried to sign the former West Ham centre-back in the summer of 2010, while New York Red Bulls have strongly considered a move for Ferdinand as they look for a marquee signing.