Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admits he had to talk Jonny Evans out of a move to Sunderland in the summer.

Evans is set to pen a bumper new contract in the coming weeks and Ferguson revealed: "I said to him, 'Think about three or four years ahead - where would you want to be?

"In the Manchester United first team or the Sunderland first team?' I told him that he would be a Manchester United first-team player because his potential was so good. I told him he would eventually take over from Rio Ferdinand.

"Rio might play until he is 36 but there will be a place for Evans - he, Vidic and Rio would give you three centre-backs as good as you will ever get."

Evans, 21, who is 18 months into his current five-year deal, said: "I am a big United fan and have been all my life.

"My dad hasn't missed a home game for five years. He wouldn't even miss a United match to watch me play at Sunderland.

"It has always been a dream to play at Manchester United. But I will always be grateful to Sunderland for the experience."