The ambition of Chinese football is growing and it appears that one of their clubs -- Guizhou Renhe -- is hoping to tempt away Rio Ferdinand from Manchester United. It was just this past winter when another one of the Chinese Super League club's -- Shagnhai Shenua -- signed former Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka on wages believed to be in the region of £175,000 per week. There is speculation that this same Shanghai club, and possibly others, are preparing similarly lucrative deals to bring current Chelsea striker Didier Drogba to China. In addition to Ferdinand, Guizhou is hoping to lure away Chelsea's Frank Lampard as well according to their chairman Wang Guolin.
"I want the best team in China and we are prepared to invest a lot of money to bring Ferdinand and Lampard to us. Many people know how good the two players are."
- Guolin | Source: Sun
The 33-year-old Ferdinand is certainly no longer at his peak anymore and it has even been suggested by some that he could be on his way out of Old Trafford at the summer. The former United and England captain has only one more year remaining on his current £130,000 per week contract after the current season ends and the reportedly £250,000 per week that Guizhou is rumored to be preparing could nearly double his wages -- and make him amongst the highest paid footballers in the world.
Despite all of this, I'm skeptical that Ferdinand would leave United under this scenario. My guess is that many of you share the same sentiment. Who knows if Lampard will leave Chelsea -- or even England -- for a departure to China but that scenario seems more plausible when compared to Ferdinand's. If seems very possible that the West London club will blow up the core of their aging squad this summer as they look to rebuild -- this could include the departure of Lampard.
In contrast, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has generally (*) moved his influential and aging players along gradually while methodically implementing young talent into the squad. The shifts typically aren't titanic. Despite Ferdinand's chronic back issues and a decline in pace, he is still first-choice when available. In addition, his positioning -- despite playing a few yards back these days -- is generally very good and on the center-back's day, he still can put in a class performance.
(*) Note the word 'generally' was used and not 'always'. I don't want examples such as Roy Keane or David Beckham shoved back into my face.
In addition to what Ferdinand offers on the pitch, Fergie recently revealed during a BBC Radio 5 live interview that the tremendous leadership his former captain provides in the dressing room is invaluable, especially for the younger players. Much of Fergie's long-term success is due to his ability to effectively transition and evolve. Players like Ferdinand, who are at this particular stage in their careers, are the type of influential players that bridge the change and pass the culture of club down to the next generation -- just as the likes Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, and Paul Scholes did before him.