It had looked to be a done deal, but the move from QPR for Rio Ferdinand might now not go ahead. Reports suggest that the former Manchester United defender would cost the newly promoted side too much in terms of wages, and that they might be considering a rethink on signing him as a result.
Ferdinand had been on a weekly income of around £200,000 at Old Trafford, making him one of the best paid players in world football. Clearly that figure is entirely unaffordable for the Hoops, so it is believed that the defender had agreed to take a massive cut in order to sign for the club, making his wage packet less than one third of what it had been. A figure that is still within the region of £60,000 and £70,000 however, should QPR even be considering signing a player who will turn 36 in November, for that amount of money?
On the one hand, Harry Redknapp is very keen to bring Ferdinand’s talent and experience into the QPR set-up. The manager is much travelled in English football, and he had coached Ferdinand as a youngster at West Ham, giving him his debut for the club. After subsequent high-profile stints at Leeds United and Manchester United, the player is also thought to be keen to complete a career circle, and reunite with Redknapp.
But football isn’t fuelled by romance, and no doubt there will be more than just personal history behind Redknapp’s desire to bring Ferdinand into the fold. The player was, and to some extent still is, a very talented centre back. His best years are behind him, but Rio Ferdinand’s average performances can trump some of the very best endeavours of other players. The Hoops will be preparing to do a lot of defending next season, and they would much rather have a proven talent to do it for them.
Of course, Ferdinand’s experience is his other major plus point. There are few in world football with experience to match his, and barely anyone else knows the Premier League like he does. QPR have a squad of players many of whom have played in the top flight before, but very few of them have performed at the top level of the top flight. Ferdinand has done that, and he has done it for years.
But, he has done it with increasing irregularity over recent seasons. A series of injury concerns have kept him on the sidelines for frustratingly long periods of time, and the up and coming United talent has made sure that he has stayed there. For the Red Devils, Ferdinand’s value had become increasingly linked with his presence in the dressing room or on the training field, rather than his role on the field of play. QPR would be satisfied with a similar arrangement, but they are understandably unwilling to pay big money for it.
Ferdinand’s fitness will be a concern, because it is not as though he has too much time to recover anymore. The player probably feels as though he could keep on contributing in the Premier League for another 4 seasons, but history tells us that it is just as likely that the next campaign will prove to be his last. Whilst Redknapp can’t see past the experience and knowledge, others might envisage a disjointed Ferdinand season in which QPR provide him with one last windfall.
For many, including, it seems, the Rangers board, the risk is too great and the reward is too little. In terms of the money that Ferdinand could cost (despite not carrying a transfer fee), the expectation levels for him at Loftus Road would be massive… And expectation levels are usually reserved for those players who have 10-15 years of a playing career stretched out ahead of them. Expectation levels, big-money contracts and regular first team starts are not things which are usually reserved for older, once great players who find themselves without a club.