Nemanja Vidic's form in recent weeks is forcing a rethink from Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson over his proposed summer sale. The Times says since Vidic returned from an eight-week layoff with a nerve problem in his calf, United have conceded only two goals in seven matches and his handling of Kevin Davies, the bête noire of many defenders, was exemplary in Saturday's win at Bolton Wanderers.

It raises the question of whether United can afford to let him leave this summer, even if Real Madrid, Barcelona or AC Milan offer in excess of £20 million for a player who turns 29 in October. United's defence simply isn't the same without Vidic - his absence is more keenly felt than Ferdinand's - and if Chris Smalling is intended as longer-term replacement for the Serb, the Fulham defender, who joins the champions in June, has huge shoes to fill.