Ferdinand believes the Italian is a one-off, saying: "I think Paolo Maldini is an exception to the rule.

"It would be harder to achieve what he has done in the Premier League.

"To play at this pace in England year in and year out is tough. It is harder than in Italy. To play until you are 39 over in England is much more difficult in our rigorous game.

"I will take it year by year. But if you could tell me now I could play at United until I am 39 I would bite your hand off!"