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The Rio Ferdinand Situation

There has been much made about our premier defender’s contract situation since yesterday. Rio Ferdinand, according to earlier reports, was to hold off contract negotiations till summer. The reports attributed his agent, the scheming Pini Zahavi, to have said that.

Lot’s of blogs and forums have immediately reacted to the news.

Scott on the ROM blog has compared and contrasted Rio’s situation with Wes Brown’s contract wrangle. He asks if Rio would be given preferential treatment on the back of rejecting a loyal servant like Brown.

On A Kick In the Grass, James Ryddel is worried if United end up, in his words, ‘ball watching’ as Rio lets his contract run down.

But today, Sky Sports has reported that Rio’s agent is willing to negotiate a contract ‘soon’. Now I don’t know how different soon is from this summer, but I would hope it is sooner. Rio’s contract would expire in 2009, so failing to negotiate one now would see him leave for free in ’09.

I am fairly certain that the club would want some return for a £33m investment. But more importantly, the thought of selling Rio Ferdinand at this point is unthinkable — as much as it would be to sell Rooney or Ronaldo. Ever since the Glazer takeover it has been the rule that players’ contracts are negotiated one year before expiry. Unlike before, when it was done two years prior.

The thing with Rio is that he is as integral to the core of our team as are our star attackers. But does that mean we have to break the bank (and our wage structure) to accede to his demands, if he does make unreasonable ones? For one, I must say that Rio would need to be bloody courageous to stall on contract negotiations, given the history. Most of us would recall the days, I’m sorry, months, he took to finally pen down a £100,000 a week contract.

While many of us have forgiven him, preferring to look at his assured performances along with Vidic — perhaps some even consider him to be potential captaincy material — surely we can’t be paying £120k a week for a defender, can we?

While we know nothing about Rio’s true intentions, let’s not throw our toys and talk crap about him. However, suppose he does again make a big fuss over wages, should we just sell him and risk a season of uncertain central defensive pairings — an area we took years to shore up? Or should we actually break our wage structure, again? Remember, breaking wage structures can only send you down a slippery slope which could have a snowball effect on the team. We have Evra’s contract situation to deal with too. And you never know, with these contract things, the proverbial shit can happen. I don’t trust players anymore, ever since a certain Argentinian left back betrayed us.

So that’s the end of my rant. Over to you.