As confirmed by official reports, Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic will leave the Premier League club at the end of the season when his contract runs out in the summer. He has stated that he will seek out a fresh challenge, with Italian giants Inter Milan thought to be favorites to sign the Serbian.
The 32-year-old defender joined from Spartak Moscow in 2006, and has enjoyed a hugely successful career at Old Trafford since, helping the club win a string of trophies. Injuries have limited Vidic’s appearances in recent seasons and he featured in just 33 games in the last two seasons, but the center-back has been a regular starter in United’s defense this season.
A statement from Vidic on Manchester United’s official website read:
“I never could have imagined winning 15 trophies and I will certainly never forget that fantastic night in Moscow, memories that will live with me and the fans forever.
“However, I have decided that I will move on at the end of this season. I want to challenge myself again and try to make the best of myself in the coming years.
“I’m not considering staying in England as the only club I ever wanted to play for here is Manchester United and I was lucky enough to be part of this club for so many years.
“I’ve got a few options to move on and I will choose the right one for me and for my family.
“I am now going to focus all my efforts on playing for Manchester United and do the best I can for the team until the end of the season.
“I hope this stops any further speculation about my future.”
Vidic becomes the latest long-serving player to announce their departure and it seems unlikely that he will be the last given that Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs are all out of contract in the near future.
Manchester United manager David Moyes revealed that the decision for Nemanja Vidic to leave at the end of the season was a ‘mutual’ one:
“It was something we mutually agreed together. Me and Nemanja. I think it was the right decision for both the club and the player.
“What I discussed with him will remain private but he has been a brilliant servant and captain for Manchester United. He is captain and will remain captain until the end of the season. He has been a great player for us and we will continue to play him.”
Moyes also explained that the timing of the announcement would not affect the club going forward and he will continue to rely upon the 6ft 2in center-back as United try to force their way back into top-four contention this season.
“No, not somebody like Vida given the type of man he is. He’s a great leader for this club and served the club really well and I would expect that to continue right up until the end of the season.
“I think people know that I’ve got things in my mind that I want to do and things I wanted to change in time. I can’t do it all overnight. That wasn’t the reason for this. As I said, this was a decision that we mutually decided together. He felt it was the right time for him. We’ll get on with it and we’ll move on.”
Moyes suggested that he is unlikely to dip into the transfer market for a center-back this summer, believing instead that Vidic’s long-term replacement lies within his existing squad, meaning that Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans will have the chance to prove themselves worthy successors.
“I think we have got [Nemanja’s replacement] in the club already. Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans are already here.
“People who know football will tell you center-half is probably the toughest position. I even think it is harder to play center-half than goalkeeper now.
“With the movement of the center forwards and the quality of the center forwards, playing a young center-half is very difficult. To nurture one along and bring them into the team… we are trying to do that. We will give Smalling, Jones and Evans those opportunities to show what they are capable of.”