In a move that has been anticipated, defender Wes Brown will be moving on from Manchester United to Sunderland after agreeing to a four-year deal. The transfer fee has been undisclosed but reports state that it is in the region of £1-million. The 31-year-old signed as a professional at United in 1996 and he was part of the squad that famously won the treble in 1998-99. During his time with the club, Brown made 361 appearances for United in all competitions. The former England international also represented his country 23 times. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had this to say about the departure:
"Wes has been a great asset to the club during the most successful period in its history. He was a product of the youth system and marked himself out from an early age as one of his generation's most natural defenders. In his time with us, he certainly became a favourite with the fans for his no-nonsense approach to the game and his infectious personality. It's always the hardest of decisions to let loyal servants go. But life moves on and, unquestionably, Wes will get the chance to make a real contribution to Steve Bruce's Sunderland, and I'm delighted to be passing him into such good hands."
Seeing Brown go will likely cause many United supporters to feel sentiment because of his long-time service to the club; and also for him being one the last remaining links to the treble season. As the manager said though, time moves on and Brown was excess on the current squad. Both his role and level of performance has diminished in recent seasons. At center-back, United already have the world-class duo of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand along with promising youngsters Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, and Jonny Evans. At full-back, the departed defender would be behind Patrice Evra, Rafael, and Fabio in the pecking order. The timing is right and hopefully another former United defender, Sunderland's Bruce, can smoothly transition Brown's career and offer him regular football.
Last month, it was understood that Sunderland had accepted a joint bid of more than £12-million for the trio of Brown, John O'Shea, and Darron Gibson. While Brown is the first official signing for the Black Cats out of the trio, it has been reported that O'Shea was taking a medical today at Sunderland - generally, if the medical goes well, an announcement of a deal soon follows. Like Brown, O'Shea has been a loyal servant to the club but it could be argued that he should not be sold. Despite the Irishman likely being behind the same defenders as Brown in the depth, O'Shea still can still provide quality cover - just as he did during the most recent run-in.