Rio Ferdinand set to extend Manchester United contract

Don't go, Rio! Fergie poised to reward star with new deal and backs defender to play until he's 35

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UPDATED:

07:05 GMT, 26 March 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson will open talks over a new Manchester United contract for Rio Ferdinand this summer — to ward off interest from America, Russia and China.

Ferdinand, 33, whose current deal runs to June 2013, has starred in United’s resurgent run in the Barclays Premier League, confounding those who thought his much-publicised back problem was beginning to impact on his effectiveness.

New deal: Sir Alex Ferguson want to open talks with Rio Ferdinand to stay at Old Trafford

New deal: Sir Alex Ferguson want to open talks with Rio Ferdinand to stay at Old Trafford

As United aim to go clear at the top of the table against Fulham on Monday night, it has emerged that Ferguson would like Ferdinand, above, to stay.

Carry on playing: Ferguson has backed Ferdinand to play on until he is 35

Carry on playing: Ferguson has backed Ferdinand to play on until he is 35

But talks are likely to be protracted, with United offering Ferdinand a rolling, one-year deal at less than his current 115,000-a-week pay, to reflect his age. Ferdinand would prefer to stay with United but he has an acute value of his worth.

United’s medical staff think he can continue to play at the top level until he is 35 at least.