Manchester United’s powerhouse Serbian centre back Nemanja Vidic has confirmed he will leave Old Trafford at the end of the current Premier League season.
On the surface the news appears a natural progression, with the 32-year-old defender in the twilight of his career and struggling with injury over the past few seasons.
However, the willingness with which Vidic has accepted the situation only highlights United’s rapid fall from grace since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson as boss.
Under David Moyes the champions have lost eight times already this season and find themselves with an uphill battle just to secure a top four finish.
The Red Devils are priced as 7/2 outsiders to pull back a seven-point deficit on arch rivals Liverpool by the end of the current campaign and it is the threat of playing in the Europa League, rather than the continent’s top tournament, that has Vidic so happy to leave.
United will claim that by not offering the former Spartak Moscow man a new deal he is leaving on their terms.
However, with Vidic attracting the attention of a number of clubs including Serie A giants Inter Milan, it is likely that Moyes has intentionally avoided the embarrassment of being turned down by the centre half.
Confirming the news on United’s official website, Vidic said: “I’m not considering staying in England as the only club I ever wanted to play for here is Manchester United.
“I never could have imagined winning 15 trophies. However, I have decided I will move on at the end of this season. I want to challenge myself again.”
The confirmation could see Moyes give understudies Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones more chances over the remainder of the season in a bid to see if a solid partnership can form from the younger trio.
This could start with United’s must-win game against relegation-threatened Fulham this weekend.
The hosts are priced as 2/9 favourites as former United coach Rene Meulensteen takes the Cottagers to old Trafford but a loss could leave Moyes staring at an Old Trafford exit of his own with fans growing increasingly impatient with the Scot.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.