London: Manchester United are ready to offer Rio Ferdinand a one-year contract extension in January – but on around half his current salary.
The defender, who turns 34 next month, has yet to open talks with United about a new deal even though his agreement expires next summer.
The club want to extend his spell at Old Trafford beyond 11 years but, in line with their policy of offering reduced terms to its over-30s players, Ferdinand cannot expect a renewal of his current £120,000-a-week wages.
United are preparing to offer Ferdinand a 12-month package worth around £60-70,000-a-week.
United’s proposal is unrelated to the Kick It Out controversy involving the 33-year-old and manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Premier League giants have a well-established policy of handing less lucrative deals to players once they enter their mid-30s and their first-team appearances are being more strictly rationed. The likes of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville have all taken wage cuts towards the tail-end of their careers.
Ferdinand and his advisers have yet to test temperature in preliminary talks but are not expecting anything other than a one-year contract offer from United.
They will then have to decide whether to extend the defender’s Old Trafford career, which began in 2002 when he joined from Leeds United, or accept a lengthier offer from elsewhere.
MLS clubs New York Red Bulls and Chicago Fire are among those monitoring Ferdinand’s situation while West Ham, where he began his professional career, would also be interested if there are signs he might leave United next summer.
Since missing the opening weeks of the season through injury, Ferdinand has started seven of United’s eight Premier League and Champions League matches.
There were reports that the defender’s future at Old Trafford could be under threat after he defied Ferguson by refusing to wearing a shirt in support of football’s anti-racism movement during the warm-up before United’s 4-2 win against Stoke City on Saturday.
But the manager is thought to have cleared the air with one of his most senior players during a meeting on Sunday morning at the club’s Carrington base, where Ferdinand arrived with the rest of the team for an hour-long warm-down and massage session.
Ferguson is said to have told Ferdinand he was disappointed that the player failed to inform him he intended not to wear the Kick It Out T-shirt. Ferguson thinks this made him look foolish after he told the media on Friday that all his players would wear the group’s T-shirts.
It is believed that Ferdinand apologised to his manager for not disclosing that information, and he is not expected to be fined over the matter.
Ferguson was expecting to be grilled about the issue at his media briefing on Monday afternoon to preview United’s Champions League home match against Braga on Tuesday night.